The new school year is an exciting time so it’s tempting to go on a back-to-school shopping frenzy, pulling all notebooks, pens, highlighters, and post-it notes into your wake. Follow these seven tips to resist the shopping gimmicks and make it through back-to-school season with your bank account and sanity still intact.
Before setting foot in a store, shop your own house! Chances are you have pens and pencils your kids can use, backpacks that are in perfectly good shape, and notebooks that have half the paper left in them.
Once you’ve taken stock of what you currently own, write out a list and budget. This important step will help prevent impulse purchases. Allow in your budget for one fun purchase to celebrate the beginning of the school year—it will lessen the blow of saying goodbye to the carefree days of summer.
Avoid peak shopping times.
Retailers jack up prices for the big back-to-school shopping spree in August because they know parents are in a pinch and demand is high. Don’t succumb to this market manipulation. Chances are your child won’t need everything on his back-to-school shopping list on day one, so send him to school with a few essentials like a notepad, folder, and pens and pencils. You can pick up the rest gradually as items begin to go on sale.
Buying only the bare necessities might actually help your children stay focused in school instead of, you know, putting multi-colored stickies on everything or trying to decide which of their 15 new notebooks to use for each class. If your child received a supply list from his teacher that is three pages long, discuss with the teacher which items are absolutely mandatory and which are only suggestions. You don’t need to confess that you’re on a budget, just explain that you don’t want to go overboard on supply shopping this year.
Find supplies that do double duty.
Try to consolidate your list of needed supplies by purchasing all-in-one supplies. For example, purchase one notebook with a few different sections, rather than separate ones for each class. And are highlighters really necessary when you already own different colored pens for underlining? If your kid’s backpack as a few different compartments, do you really need to buy a separate pencil bag? Also beware of items that will be readily available at school. For instance, most classrooms have pencil sharpeners so chances are you don’t need to buy them especially for your child.
Your kids may want you to spend extra money on flashy Jonas brothers-themed folders, but wouldn’t it be more fun (and cheaper!) to have them decorate their own school supplies? Encourage them to put their own individual marks on their stuff. Kids can get their creative juices flowing by designing their folders, binders, and notebooks to reflect their own unique tastes.