It's that time of year again -- back to school mania! Even though your child may only in preschool, there are items you may need to buy to get her ready. Here are some money-saving ideas to to keep you within your back to school budget!
- It's best to get the list of school supplies needed for fall on the last day of school before summer break. Don't wait until the first day of school to get the list -- you'll miss out on the summer sales and lose time shopping and searching for materials on the first day of school.
- From the list of supplies, check what you have left from last year's supplies. For example, you may have four glue sticks and two glue bottles left over from last year, so check those off your list.
- Stick to your list! As easy as this may sound -- it's not! Don't waste your money buying supplies that look cute or because you think your child might need them. There are a lot of children who show up at kindergarten with geometry sets, staplers and hole punchers. They simply won't need these items. It might be best to leave your children at home when shopping for supplies -- they seem to want to buy everything in sight!
- Be a smart shopper. When buying markers, for example, ask yourself if it is better to buy the markers that are marked two dollars more and will probably last the whole year, or to buy the cheap ones at the dollar store that dry out as soon as you look at them? Dollar stores are great for 80 percent of school supplies; the rest you'll need to watch out for at back-to-school sales.
- Don't purchase a pencil case that will hold three pencils and a half an eraser. Instead buy a cosmetic bag (boys can have the solid-colored ones). The case will hold all supplies, it has a sturdier zipper and is available at the same price as the pencil case.
- Identify your child's belongings -- every pencil, crayon and marker. If you don't, they may end up the collective batch at school, and so will your money.
- Reuse artwork or recycle gift wrap or colored comic pages to cover school books. When you buy supplies at discount stores during their back-to-school sales, stock up on items you'll need during the year such as pencils, pens, rulers and paper. Some items could be good for holiday stocking-stuffers.
- Re-use old vinyl binders. Cover them with pictures from magazines and brush on a clear decoupage sealant (found at hobby and craft stores).
- Teach your children to take care their belongings as they use them and to put them away together after each use. Getting them into this habit will save you a lot of money throughout the years.