6 Tips to Save on Back-to-School Supplies

Pencils, crayons, pens, and notebooks mean it’s that time again! All parents know that back-to-school shopping can add up quickly. However, there are things you can do to minimize the cost. This school year, save yourself some money with the following tips.

1. Stick to the list. Any item not on the list provided by your child’s teacher probably isn’t needed. Although kids may beg for extra supplies, make a rule that if something isn’t on the list, you won’t buy it. They can have fun picking out the items that are actually needed.

• If a list wasn’t given out before the first day of school, there’s no need to get carried away and purchase a bunch of stuff your child might not ever use. Get the list as soon as possible; you’ll be in a position to pick up items when they’re on sale.
• Contact the school or look at the school’s website if you haven’t received a copy of the list. Many schools now provide a downloadable version on their website.

2. Shop at home first. You likely have several things at home that can be used. Look in your office for pencils, pens, unused notebooks, notebook paper, and more. Remember to check your child’s book bag, crayons, lunch box, and anything else that comes to mind.

• Items like pencil boxes, pencil sharpeners, and scissors can probably be used for years before they need replacement.

3. Consider the source. Many parents immediately think of large super-stores as the best source of school supplies. Remember to consider the offerings of drug stores and even grocery stores.

• Frequently, these less-considered stores can have spectacular sales on many back-to-school supplies just to get shoppers in the door. Check out newspaper inserts and mailed circulars to find out about drugstore sales.

4. Watch for the sales. As the calendar closes in on the beginning of the school year, keep your eyes open. Sales abound, and the smart shopper will be on the lookout for the best deals. Often one store will have notebooks on sale for one cent, while another will have a great sale on pencils.

• Using coupons wisely can save you a ton of money.

Even if a coupon comes out after you’ve made a purchase, stores will typically honor them. Take your receipt and the coupon back to the store and get that better price.

5. Do you have a tax-free holiday? Many states have tax-free holidays around the start of school. Make sure to check whether your state has a tax free holiday and go shopping during those times.

6. Team up with another parent. By joining forces with another parent, you have the opportunity to purchase items in bulk at reduced prices. Then divide up the supplies and the savings.

Back-to-school time is exciting for everyone, but for parents it can also be a financially stressful time of the year. But school starting doesn’t have to break the bank. Get your supply list, stick to it, and focus on saving money by following these tips. This school year might cost you less than any other.

How to Save Money on Back-to-School Clothes

Every year parents deal with the challenge of buying back-to-school clothes. Stores are crowded, items are expensive, and you know your kids will probably outgrow everything before the clothes wear out. But there are things you can do to minimize the cost and avoid the crowds.

1. Set a budget. As with anything else, the first step to limiting how much you spend is to set a budget and actually stick to it.

• Consider how much you’ll need to spend up front as well as what will be required for purchases during the school year. Stretch that budget as far as possible by only buying what you really need and by shopping when the sales occur.

2. Assess your current situation. What does your child currently have? What fits? What can be reused for the new school year? Figure out what you’re actually going to need, make a list, and keep it with you.

• When anything on your list goes on sale, you’ll be in the position to take advantage of the situation.

3. Consider hand-me-downs. Do you have older children whose clothes would be appropriate for your younger child? What about the children of your friends, neighbors, and co-workers?

• Many people just throw perfectly good clothes in the trash. You may be pleasantly surprised at what others may offer you, and usually everything is free!

4. In the spring, buy winter clothes for the next school year. Winter styles are amazingly inexpensive in March. So buy ahead.

• Of course, the same situation applies when buying clothes for the rest of the year. Out-of-season clothes are much less expensive. The stores want all that merchandise out of their way.
• Remember to consider your child’s growth.

5. Consider buying used clothes. Your kids might not be thrilled if they knew, but thrift stores and consignment shops have many pieces of clothing in excellent condition. Some are designer items that cost a ton of money new.

• Much of the apparel has only been worn a couple of times, and it’s not unheard of to find stuff that’s never been worn. Your kids will never know, but your bank account will be able to tell the difference.

6. Trade in the old clothes. Many stores like Once Upon a Child and Plato’s Closet specialize in used clothing. Not only can you get some money for those clothes your child can no longer wears, you might also find a great price on something they’ll love!
• Also consider selling last year’s clothes at a garage sale or on eBay. Your child’s old clothes may have value to someone, especially if they’re in good condition.

7. Check to see if your state has a back-to-school tax holiday. Some states have a couple of weeks or weekends before school starts when they temporarily eliminate sales tax.

• The amount you save can be considerable, so check if your state has this tax break before you plan your shopping trips.

If you utilize the above money saving tips, you can save a lot of money on back-to-school clothes! Follow at least a couple of the suggestions in this article and you’ll be well on your way to having a happy, well-dressed child and keeping more of your hard-earned money in your pocket.

3 Tips for Living Well Beneath Your Means

Contrary to popular opinion, the key to financial freedom isn’t solely based on the amount of money you bring into the household each month. It’s about learning how to manage your money and prioritize your spending. This is also known as living beneath your means.

Below, you’ll find some great suggestions for living beneath your means in order to build savings. You won’t have to move into a shoebox or completely forgo entertainment and shopping – but the tips below will help you learn how to make better spending choices.

Consider these strategies:

1. Have a slice of humble pie. If you’re constantly in a competition with your neighbors, coworkers or friends, you’re never going to stop spending. In the back of your mind, you’ll always try to “beat” them by having the newest car, biggest house, most expensive clothing, and more.

• Once you eject the competitiveness from your mind, you’ll be able to effectively trim the fat from your budget.

• If you’re a smoker, now is the time to quit. If not for your health, do it for your financial future. In some states, a pack of cigarettes can cost $10. If you’re a pack-per-day smoker, you can save $300 per month by ditching this harmful habit.

• Work with what you have. There’s no need to upgrade your car if the one you’re driving now gets you from point A to point B. If your current home isn’t to your liking, make some updates or redecorate – it’s a far less expensive fix than purchasing an extravagant estate.

    2. Trim your grocery budget. Coupons aren’t the only way to save money on your grocery bills (though they certainly help). You just need to be conscious of your purchases. It’s possible to feed a family of four for under $10 – with a high quality meal to boot!

    • Never go grocery shopping hungry or tired.

    • Three nights per week, cook up something very inexpensive for dinner, such as beans and rice or homemade soup. It’ll be a nice change of pace, without feeling deprived. And of course, the biggest bonus is that you’ll save money!

    3. Make savings a priority. Savings isn’t optional. It’s necessary for financial emergencies – and they always come up in some form or another. Treat it as any other bill each month. Place this, as every other bill, in your budget workbook. You do have a budget workbook, don’t you?

    • If you’d like, break it up into pay periods. In order to save $800 per month in a 2-income household, each partner would have to set aside $100 per week. A $400 goal would be just $50 per week. When a savings goal is broken into manageable pieces, it’s a far less daunting figure.

    • When you’re unable to meet your savings goals, either find a way to make more money or spend less money each month. If you’re able to trim the fat from your monthly expenses, there will always be a way to meet your savings goals.

    • Budget your “fun money” as well. When you budget a set amount for unnecessary shopping trips and entertainment, you can’t shop until you drop. When the money runs out, you’re done.

      Your entire life doesn’t need to change in order to live below your means. It’s all about minimizing your expenses where possible and refusing the urge to live larger – even if you have the means to do so. By implementing these simple tips, you can slash hundreds of dollars – if not more – off your monthly bills and stash it into your savings account!

       

      Live Frugally to Stay Sway From Debts

      By Guest Contributor:  Jack Reed

      Debt is a serious issue in the US today. The national debt clock ticking away at a frightening fast pace is a testimony to the fact that the US is indeed not in a good economic state. A major reason for this scenario is that most of the people have no sense of control over their finances. Using credit cards and spending beyond one’s means has almost become a fashion today. No wonder why a large number of Americans are resorting to debt relief programs. So where does the solution lie? It is just you who has the power to bring your finances under control and the best way to achieve this is to start living frugally!

      First of all, get rid of the wrong idea that being frugal is cheap, it’s not. Rather it is smart! When you practice frugality, you make reasonable and economic choices for yourself. So if you are hesitant to take the first step towards frugality then read on to know how you can go about it.

      1)    Try the do-it-yourself approach: What is the first picture that comes to your mind if you see your faucet leaking? By most chances a plumber. We have become so used to paying others to get our things done that we fail to realize how much we can save by a do-it-yourself approach. If you are a little uncomfortable with that then you can even check out your local home improvement store which conducts free home repair workshops. Take the help of a friend or research on the internet with a quick search to fix your problems. With this approach, the person who gets paid at the end is you, with a pat on your back!

      2)    Stop being too brand conscious: People fancy buying branded stuffs. You can very well end up paying a lot more for a simple pair of branded shoes than what you would have paid had you purchased it from a normal store. Brands might provide you with better quality stuff but it is really not worth to lighten your wallet so much. Unbranded stuffs are the way to go and the good news is nobody really bothers to notice what you are carrying with you!

      3)    Don’t let the Joneses bother you: So you are jealous of your neighbor’s shiny new car? It does not really matter how others choose to live their life. You are your best judge, know what you can afford and tread accordingly. You can always spend on things you fancy but before that you need to build up a healthy financial picture of yourself. If your neighbor has the new car and shows it off as an achievement then you also have something to show off- you are free from debt! And you know yourself which is a bigger achievement, got the point?

      4)    Prepare a handy list of your finances: Keep a track of your income and expenditure. Know the areas where the major chunk of your income is utilized, it could be food, insurance, bill payments etc. You don’t really need to give up on the little luxuries of life but some compromises are worth it. It is perfectly fine to indulge once in a while but you should be careful to stay within your budget and trim your expenses from other areas if necessary.

      5)    Avoid cards as far as possible: This is an old advice but the best and the most prudent one. Credit cards do tempt you to spend beyond your affordability. Make use of cash to ensure that you never become a victim of credit card debt.

      Do not be hesitant to practice frugal living. It is your guide to living better for less. It is a wise adjustment with your finances and lifestyle. So get geared to try the frugal side of life so that you can always enjoy being debt-free!

       

      Healthy Ways to Feed Your Family on a Budget

      Finding healthy ways to feed your family can often be challenging because it’s not always the most affordable option. However, with just a little creativity, it’s very possible to find healthy, budget friendly food choices so your family and your pocket can reap the benefits!

      Tips That Can Instantly Save You Money!

      Consider the following tips that are sure to cater to your wallet and your palate:

      1. Eat out less often. Eating out less often has two wonderful benefits:

      • In one instance, your expenditure on food will be significantly less because eating at a restaurant is often pricier than you might realize.
      • In the second instance, eating out doesn’t allow you to control the ingredients in your meals. Even if you order something that sounds healthy, there’s a strong likelihood that the overall meal won’t be healthy enough for your liking.

      2. Grow your own veggies and herbs. You’d be surprised at how much savings you can accrue if you grow your own vegetables and herbs at home. Even if you have a small home with very minimal outdoor space, it’s still possible to have your own garden in pots.

      • Fresh herbs and vegetables are tasty and healthy, yet quite expensive if you buy the organic versions at the grocery store. By growing your own, you’ll know that they’re organic, picked at the peak of perfection and nutrition, and you’ll save money as well.


      Cooking Techniques That Are Affordable and Healthy

      Try these healthy cooking ideas for a change of pace and more change in your pocket:

      1. Go grilled, not fried. If you have kids in your family, then there’s a great chance that they will want kid friendly meals like fish fingers or chicken nuggets. While those items may not necessarily be very expensive in the supermarket, they’re not as nutritious as their grilled counterparts.

      • It’s easy to avoid the unhealthy way of preparing these things for your kids by grilling or oven-cooking their favorites.

      2. Use homemade condiments. A great alternative to unhealthy store-bought condiments is to make your own relishes and sauces at home. The added benefit is that they’ll be much less expensive than the grocery store variety.

      3. Make your own juices. You’d be surprised at how much sugar or artificial sweetener is contained within many of those “zero sugar” juices on the market. Why not save yourself the extra dollars and your family the extra calories by making juices yourself? Fruits are relatively affordable – especially if you buy them locally and in season – so buying your own and making your own juices is a healthier and more affordable option.

      Many people end up choosing the more expensive and less healthy eating options for their families simply because they assume healthy eating is more expensive. While it can be more expensive in certain instances, a little creativity and imagination can definitely allow you to have a healthier option on a budget.

      So now is the time to put your thinking cap on and find smarter ways to eat with healthier and money-saving outcomes! Your limited pocket doesn’t have to equate to limited nutrition; find creative ways to make “1+1″ equal healthy and affordable alternatives!