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.

Combat Empty Nest Syndrome Before it Happens

Waving your kids off to college is undoubtedly a bittersweet moment. You’re proud that your children are on their way to adulthood. Nevertheless, you’re saddened by the fact that they’ll soon be off in a dorm room with strangers rather than home in their beds.

Even though the moment isn’t here yet and you’re trying to soak up every second available with your children, it’s important to plan for what is to come rather than simply ignoring it. Your kids will be in college soon. Therefore, now is the time to develop a plan to help you cope with the sadness of the separation.

Try these techniques to help you prepare yourself for an empty nest:

1. Look forward to enjoying your new found freedom. While your kids are enjoying their freedom away at college, you too can rejoice in your newfound freedom away from the kids and their limiting schedules.

  • You’ll be able to host dinner parties on weeknights, lounge around with your spouse without sharing the TV, take vacations during the school year, join clubs or become more active in your church community.
  • This is the time to rediscover your interests. For so long, you’ve put your wants on the backburner. But now, you can fully explore your interests and find a hobby that helps you feel needed, appreciated, and offers gratification.

2. Reconnect with your spouse. After raising the children for so many years, living alone with your spouse is something that may feel new to you again. Now is the moment to feel like newlyweds! Reconnect with one another on a deeper level than you have in the last twenty years or so.

  • Every night is date night! Make something special for dinner a few times each week and then go out on the town on the weekends.
  • Take the time to enjoy this milestone in your relationship. You’ve raised wonderful children together; you’ve succeeded as parents and have held a successful marriage. You’re living the American dream – have a toast to your success!

3. Plan a home improvement project. Properly planning a home improvement project takes time. Therefore, use the few months ahead while the kids are still at home to redo their bedroom once they’re off in college.

  • Turning their bedroom into a gym may be too much of a change. So, take baby steps. Turn their bedroom into a guest bedroom. By doing so, you can comfortably accommodate both your adult children and guests.
  • Add a home office area to the bedroom so your kids can have a place to study when they come home on breaks. In addition, a simple armchair for reading, fresh paint, new linens and accessories will make for a hotel-like retreat that guests can appreciate.
  • Generally, most teens won’t feel as if they’re being slighted when their childhood bedroom is given a makeover. If anything, they’ll feel better knowing that their parents are just as excited about the change.

In addition to all of the tips outlined above, plan ways to connect with your children while they’re in college. Plan to send care packages, have weekly video chats, monthly visits, and holidays together. However, refrain from saying: “Call us every night” as this will likely cause your child to feel guilty when unable to call.

It’s vital to remember that this is uncharted territory for everyone involved; it’s certainly a mixed bag of emotions. All you can do is to try your best to look at the bright side and all of the benefits involved for your youngster. You aren’t losing a child; you’re gaining a college graduate!

Talk to Your Child about Starting School

Children and schoolChildren often regret going back to school after a long and wonderful Summer break. Sometimes this can be really hard for them. It is important to talk about all of the things that are important about school and the positive things that the new school year will bring. Arrange and organize the child’s things for the next school year and keep school as part of the Summer as well.

Before school starts back – start mentioning the new start up. Let your child prepare and get ready for the next steps. Let them warm up to the idea that their schedule will again change drastically. Explain the importance of rest for school.

Acknowledge a child’s emotions about returning to school. It is important to validate what they share. If they say they don’t like school and really don’t want to go back – you can say that you understand that they don’t like school and feel they don’t want to go back. Ask why – what is bothering them – what is on their mind. Get them to talk about their fears and concerns. Then you can help them overcome them.

They may be scared of distance from a parent, or a new and unknown place. Explain how proud you are of them and make a big deal of their effort to try to adapt.
Help them learn how to stay in control if they are worried about teasing. If another child has teased them – teach them to remain calm and seek help if they feel they need it. Children can be mean at times – explain that the other children are learning about behavior as well.

Listen to what your child is saying – pay attention – give eye contact – repeat back what they have said. Be interested and concerned. Be positive and comfortable talking about everything. Keep the lined of communication flowing!

Moving from school to school can also cause stress for a child. Learning the ropes and gaining new friends all over again can be so stressful. Find activities that they are good at to make sure they bolster their self esteem.