Regardless of whether money is tight for your family, no one actually enjoys spending money on things they don't have to. And why would you?
Back-to-School shopping can get rather pricey, so here are a few tips to combat the expensive month of September, and really the entire year.
1. Inventory what you already have
There's always extra supplies lying around somewhere. No one says all the pens your kids use have to match. Binders are also reusable. Instead of buying new ones each year, just use it again! If you buy the binders with clear sleeves on the front, your kids can decorate a page for every year they use it and slide it in the pocket. That way they feel like it's new, and all you had to provide was the piece of paper. Checking what you have before you go shopping reduces the amount of unnecessary supplies you'll be picking up.
2. Don't be afraid to comparison shop/Use coupons
Price-matching is about to become your best friend. Take an hour and go through all of the circulars you get, or even look online. Take note of the cheapest prices and use it to your advantage. Find a price at a store not close to you? No problem. Take the flyer to one that is and ask them to price match. Most places have great price matching policies. But just know that they generally require you to have proof of the price AND when the sale starts and ends. Check these same flyers for coupons, too. As the school year inches closer, you should be able to find some good ones. Don't be afraid to use them. There is no shame in saving money.
3. Buy in bulk
If you know for a fact that your kids go through 7 containers of pencil lead a month, then stock up my friend. Wait for the sales, or hit up a bulk store and just do what you need to do. School supplies don't go bad, so there's no reason not to. Common supplies to go fast are pens, lined paper, and erasers. For some reason, they just don't seem to stick around. Find a local Costco and see if you can find some great deals. If you don't want to buy a membership, see if a friend has one and make a day of it!
There are so many different ways for lunches to save you money. The first one being to pack a lunch instead of buying one, if that's an option at your child's school. The next, using reusable containers instead of plastic wrap or tinfoil. It saves the environment and your wallet to not be using a box of Ziploc bags every two weeks. Another way to save on lunches is to have your kids help pack them. Statistics show that up to one third of the food we send with kids to school ends up in the garbage. If your kids are involved in the lunch making process, it's more likely that's they'll eat it all.
5. Avoid trendy items
Sure, it may be popular now, but things change with the wind these days. Try and steer your kids away from gear that's been branded with a certain TV show or movie. Not only is it more expensive, they may not even want to use it in 3 months when it's no longer "cool." Instead, try and aim their attention and bright patterns or colors (if that's what they want.) You can still be part of the "cool crowd" without buying trademarked items. Also look for the lesser known brands that are just as similar. No one will be able to tell the difference and even if they did, who cares? It's school, not a fashion show.
6. Teach your kids how to be mindful with their supplies
Kids don't always understand how important it is to be mindful of how we use our supplies. Remind them to replace the lids on their pens when they aren't being used, use both sides of a piece of paper, and to put things back where they belong when they aren't being used. Make a game of it if you have to! Tally up how many items they are given when school starts and at the end of the year, take note of what they have left. Create a point system and give rewards based on what they have remaining!