Monday, August 24, 2009

Back-to-School Special: Top 7 Tips to Saving Money on School Supplies

As the summer winds down, every parent needs to do some back to school shopping. However, budgets have definitely tightened with the economic crisis and now, more than ever, you have to worry about every dollar you spend, even on school necessities. Here are some tips on how to save money while doing back-to-school shopping.

7. Buy in bulk

While 40 pencils might cost you $2, 10 might cost you $1. Obviously, you're constantly trying to get the most stuff for each dollar. Hence, common sense would tell us to buy the 40. On the other hand, some people just think about the dollar amount and get uneasy when spending more. But think about it. Do you really think that your child (that clumsy little kid) will be able to hold onto 1 pencil for even a week, let alone a whole month? And besides, even if you don't need all 40 pencils to get through the year, you've still got next year...

6. Look for coupons

You may be skeptical that Staples or Target will be giving out coupons but get your hopes up because perhaps these two particular stores aren't giving anything. But trust me, there will be at least one store that will and when you miss that $10 discount, you can't say I didn't tell you. Anyway, the best coupon site around has to be RetailMeNot, which is loaded with good deals and has an excellent interface.

5. Don't buy what they don't need

Sure, it'd be nice to have a customizable stamp maker or a label printer or a pack of blue staples but there's not need to splurge on school supplies. Just buy the basics; pencils, pens, erasers, a glue stick, a ruler, a calculator. They don't need white-out or tape to carry with them to school or an electronic dictionary. You know they'll barely use any of these items.

4. Get them to use their old stuff

Maybe their binder has a few scratches and has a bit of dirt on it but get your child to use old stuff again. Pencils that haven't run out of lead and erasers that are only half-used can still be packed into a bag for next year.

3. Don't waste

You have to teach them not to waste anything that they have. Staples can't be used to draw a picture and you can't use full bristol board as scrap paper. Have a scrap paper bin and a few old things that they can play around with.

2. Compare prices

This can be done quickly with Google Product Search. Just type in what you want and it'll return the most relevant results with prices and retailers conveniently included. Also, you can organize the items by price, then go to the cheapest retailer for each thing.

1. Don't worry about brands

Maybe they'll want the best clothes, but hopefully, your child won't care about the brand of his pencil. And you won't be cheated in quality either; most school supplies are around the same, whether generic or "luxury".

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