Survival strategies for back-to-school shopping

Chances are you have or will soon receive that dreaded list of required back-to-school supplies. This can be a source of great stress for families on a budget. The National Retail Federation estimates that families with children elementary through high school will spend an average of $687 this year on school supplies.

So how do you stretch your dollar when shopping for the new school year? Here’s a few tips:

Check your closet: You might have school supplies around the house you forgot about. Check your child’s backpack from last year. What did they bring home from last year that can be re-used or re-purposed?

Have a swap: Get together with other parents in your neighborhood and have everyone bring unused or gently used supplies that can be traded. Another parent’s trash can be your treasure.

Shop frugally: Look for deep discount dollar stores in your community. Also, consider shopping at thrift stores. These stores often have unused backpacks and book bags for a nominal cost.

Set limits: Talk to your child before heading to the store. What is the one truly special or name brand item they want for this school year. Consider purchasing it and telling them everything else will be “no frills.”

Get a new look: With the money you save, don’t forget to plan enough time to get everyone a new haircut to start the new school year off with a fresh, positive perspective.

Remember, these types of experiences between parents and children can be teaching moments. Talk with your children about money management and getting the most for their dollar, an important lesson to teach even before the school bell rings for the upcoming school year.

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