Back to school shopping doesn't have to cost a fortune. Here are 7 smart ways of keeping the pocketbook in check in the days leading up to the return to the classroom.
1. Quality vs. price
While it’s true quality items usually last longer, they aren’t always worth the price. For instance, a washable three season jacket that can be worn throughout the school year is a better value than a winter jacket that needs to be dry cleaned. When weighing quality and price, it’s often best to consider the size (how long it will fit) as well as the number of seasons it can be worn or in the case of a backpack or school supplies, how long it will last before it needs replacing.
2. Can it be returned?
There’s nothing worse than bringing a purchase home and finding out it has a flaw or doesn’t fit and then being unable to return it. To be on the safe side, check out the store’s return policy before you make your purchase. Do you get your money back or can the item only be exchanged?
3. Not all purchases need to be new
For many families, especially those with several kids, back to school shopping could break the bank. After all, new clothing once washed is just the same as something purchased secondhand. Visit consignment, secondhand, and thrift shops early in the summer for the best selection of back to school clothing and accessories. Consider selling or donating clothing your children have outgrown.
4. Don’t drive around
You’re wasting time and gas by shopping all over. Pick two or three places to do your back to school shopping. Office supply and department stores typically have the best deals on back to school supplies.
5. Stock up
If you find some basic school supplies like notebook and computer paper, glue sticks, report folders etc. on sale that you know your child will go through quickly, stock up! This way, you won’t have to pay top dollar during a ‘crisis’ later in the school year.
6. Buy in bulk
If you see bulk savings on office supplies consider splitting the supplies and cost with a fellow parent who won’t mind saving a few dollars.
7. School uniforms
Before buying new school uniforms query parents of older students to see if they have any gently worn clothing that has been outgrown. You may also want to place an online or newspaper classified ad looking to purchase school clothing of a particular size or call your child’s school to see if there’s a used uniform sale in the works.
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