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School shopping on a budget

POSTED: July 17, 2014 1:42 p.m.
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Summer is here and all attention is usually focused on finding a summer kid’s camp or going on a summer vacation together. While both of these are great things, especially for our sanity, we should also start to focus on school starting in the next couple of months. Many people wait until the last minute to purchase school items. When you have to purchase many things at once, it affects the family budget, especially for the single mom or dad on a strict budget. Here are some tips to help you start now and save.
Take inventory
Do you have supplies left from last year that you can use? Check your kid’s closet and see what clothes still fit and what they need more of. Make sure to assess shoes and jackets too.
Find out what they need
Contact your local school and see what supplies they need. Also check to see what the dress code is so that you don’t violate it and purchase items they can’t use.
Little by little
When you do your weekly (or biweekly) grocery shopping, pick up a pack of pencils, pens or paper and notebooks.
Summer sales
There are a lot of summer sales going on right now. Check sale ads and do comparison shopping. Buy something once a week as your budget permits. Check the clearance aisle at local department stores and business supply stores. Purchase one size larger than they are right now to ensure they can wear the item over the next few months. Steer clear of name brands for bigger savings.
Don’t forget the thrift and consignment stores
Many people donate items that are brand new and still have tags. You can also find many school items such as backpacks and lunch totes still in very good condition. If your child has a tendency to lose things, purchase an extra from a thrift store.
Look for durable items and those with warranties
If you buy something that is cheap and fragile, you will need to replace it sooner than later. Look for good quality items and those with warranties.
Get in touch with neighbors and friends with children
Have a party. Organize a time to meet up with friends to bring the clothes their children have outgrown. Make sure to specify that the items should be clean and rip/stain free. Separate the clothing by gender and size and allow each person to pick one item until all of the pieces are gone.
Have a junk drawer?
It’s time to clean out that drawer. How many pens and pencils can you find? Glue sticks? Tape? You might be surprised with what you already have.
School shopping doesn’t have to break the budget. There are many ways to purchase the items your kids need without putting you in debt. Don’t forget to attend garage sales and search for items at swap meets. By purchasing items a week at a time, you will be able to purchase the items you need for their first day without the financial stress and anxiety.
Michele Sfakianos contributed to this story.

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