The dog days of summer are here and that means it’s time to start getting ready to go back to school. It seems like every year schools require more and more items to facilitate a child’s education and textbooks get more expensive. Gone are the days when a pencil and a notepad, a pair of scissors and a bottle of glue, some crayons and a few cheaply rented textbooks were all a kid needed to be ready for class. In today’s tough economy school requirements can be a serious blow to a family’s budget, especially for a single parent. The National Retail Federation reports that the average family spent over $600 per child on Back to School needs in 2010.
So obviously it’s time to pull out some serious big money saving tactics. Here are five proven ideas to get you started in the right direction.
- Get online for inspiration. If you’re reading this you’ve already started. There are thousands of forums and sites with parents sharing their ideas on saving money and tips on deals, as well as offering moral support.
- Use what you already have. Start searching your closets and junk drawers and you’ll probably find you already have a lot of the things you need.
- Put the power of coupons to work. It’s easier than ever and the savings can be impressive. A wide variety of coupons can be found online, at your local retailer and in your weekly newspaper.
- Hit the thrift stores, garage sales and the dollar stores. Buying used and generic items whenever possible can save you tons and be just as serviceable as new, and there’s usually an upswing in garage sales in late summer.
- Buy what you need after the rush. If you can hold off until after the big back to school shopping frenzy in August and again in January you’ll be able to find sales savings of as much as 50-75% off the regular price. This is also the perfect time to buy up things in bulk in anticipation of the next school year.
This annual ritual can be intimidating but with a little imagination and creativity it can actually be fun and a learning experience. Involve your kids in the challenge and while you’re at it use the opportunity to teach them about money and thrift.