I hate to be the one to say it, but it’s almost back-to-school time. Getting ready for the kids to go back to school is a big job and can also be pretty expensive. I promised myself that his year I’d be prepared so I’ve started thinking about it early. There’s a lot to do and a lot to buy, and in an effort to help others through the madness, I’ll be sharing some of my helpful hints over the next few weeks. Hopefully that will help make the transition and expense easier for everyone, including myself!
Shopping for school supplies has always been one of my most hated mom duties. It always gives me a major headache and it always takes a major hit on my wallet, so I figured I’d try to tackle that challenge first in this series of ideas at winning at the back-to-school game. So, let’s get started:
- Before you start, take some Tylenol or Advil to ward off the inevitable headache. I’m sort of joking here- I’m not a doctor and in no position to give medical advice. I am, however, a mom who has come home from many school supplies shopping trips with my head pounding, and I’ve learned that taking some headache medicine before I go can help immensely. Off the record, of course.
- The next thing you can do to minimize the headache and the dent on the wallet is to look around your house for things that you already have. I was pleasantly surprised by the stash of paper, folders, pencils, and glue sticks that were lying around! Time saver and money saver that you can bet I’m going to capitalize on!
- I know what you might say next, and it’s probably what my daughter will say when I tell her about my finds. She’ll want new stuff for the new year, and she’ll want to pick it out herself. The way around that is colorful Sharpies, stickers, or some fun patterned tape that she can use to decorate and personalize the folders and notebooks that are perfectly good to use. This is a gamble, I know- she might not think it’s as great an idea as I do. But I’m also going to gamble on the odds that I will be strong in the face of her possible rejection of my fabulous idea. I’ll let you all know how it all turns out.
- Even though I’ll admit that I’ve gotten some pretty decent bargains on back-to-school items at Staples and Target, I have also spent years of my life standing in line this time of year. I have since learned that there are even better bargains, and way shorter lines, at the dollar store. Just watch out for quality. If you save on a cheaply made loose-leaf that needs to be replaced a few times over the year, you’re better off spending the money right off on a good one that will last. And I’ve also learned that bargain glue sticks don’t really stick, so I’d buy the brand name glue sticks, too. But for most other supplies, the dollar store should be great.
- Do some surfing for coupon codes and specials. You should be able to find lots of them very easily this time of year.
- Another thing that always helps when shopping for anything is to make a list of what you need and resolve to stick to it! No impulse buying!
- Do a swap. Invite friends over and tell everyone to bring their extra school supplies. Barter your extra pencils for your friend’s extra notebook and everyone saves. And you get to enjoy a social event and savings all at once!
I can’t promise you a totally painless shopping experience, but hopefully these tips will help make it kinder to your sanity and your wallet!