I just read a great article entitled “Back to School Shopping Shouldn’t Leave You Broke” at www.Crosswalk.com, written by Tawra Kellam from www.LivingOnADime.com.
So true, we should not have to bust the budget or bank just to get the kids back in school! Tawra shares some excellent money saving tips:
- Wait for the list to come out and stick to it, otherwise you might buy things you don’t need. Remember, the Bank of Mom doesn’t pay for frills. Any extras the kids want will have to be funded from their own cash reserves. I do understand that it is nice for kids to have “hip” back-to-school supplies. I look at yard sales and thrift stores for brand-name finds. For instance, I recently found a gently used Barbie backpack and a Barbie lunch box, and no one would know that I paid $1.00 each instead of the $32 that Becky Johnson’s mom paid. Who says stay at home mom’s don’t make any money?
- Don’t buy back to school clothes. Children don’t need an entirely new wardrobe every fall. Some moms act as if aliens clothes-napped their kids’ clothes the night before school, and the fashion police will come arrest them if they don’t buy the latest designer clothes right away. The kids wore clothes all year long, didn’t they? If they need something like a new pair of shoes or new jeans then buy what they need, but don’t just buy a new wardrobe because it’s the thing to do.
- Use back to school sales to your advantage. If you know your kids go through a package of socks, underwear or jeans every six months then stock up while they are on sale. The same is true of crayons, paper, notebooks, backpacks and lunch boxes. My son went through two backpacks and two lunch boxes last year, so this year we will buy two while they are on sale instead of waiting until the middle of the year when they are full price. We will also be checking garage sales between now and then to find any good deals on those items. Don’t be tempted to buy things that you wouldn’t normally use, though, just because they’re on sale.
- Go through last year’s school supplies to see which things are still usable. If my student has a working calculator, the Bank of Mom will not extend credit for a new one.
- Limit activities to one at a time. Activity fees can add up fast. One at a time is the rule at our house. If you can’t afford the activity, it doesn’t hurt for the kids to use their own money to pay for it. The best way to teach them money management is to let them manage their own money when they have nothing to lose, instead of after they have maxed out the credit cards someone persuaded then to sign up for in college.
For more free tips and recipes visit her web site at www.LivingOnADime.com. In 5 years, Tawra and her husband paid off $20,000 personal debt on an average income of $22,000 per year.