Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Back-To-School Shopping List

Getting the kids ready to go back to school seems to become more complicated each year. The supply list is longer, the money is tighter, and the summer is shorter—and hotter! Here are a few ways to organize your school supply shopping to save time and money.

Read the list, and then make your list. Your child’s school probably gave you a list of supplies to send to school with your child on the first day of school. If you don’t have it, contact the school to get it. The list may even be on the school’s website. Once you have this list, make a list of other items your child may need for school.

Shop in your house. Once you complete your supply list, look for items around the house. Most people have more pencils, pens, and other office supplies than they think they do. Include your child in the search: make it a scavenger hunt!

Start at the dollar store. You’d be amazed at what you can find at the dollar store, especially classroom supplies like disinfectant wipes and tissues. I suggest purchasing as many items as you can at a dollar or discount store, then going to other stores to finish your list.

Read the ads. Many office supply stores, department stores, and pharmacies have sales on certain items in August and September. Some of the prices can’t be beat, like notebooks for 10 cents or pencils for a penny. Consider the value of your time, though. Would you prefer to spend hours going to five stores to complete your list or to spend more money buying all of your items at one store?

Buy in bulk. If you have an organized group of friends, you may be able to purchase school supplies in bulk and split them amongst yourselves. Many stores offer free shipping once the bill reaches a certain amount, so you can shop without even having to leave the house.

Remember the calendar and to-do list. Your child’s teacher may or may not have a system for students to keep track of homework assignments and project deadlines. I suggest purchasing a weekly or monthly pocket calendar and a small notepad for your child. These items often cost a dollar or less at dollar stores or office supply stores. The habits of tracking daily assignments (as a to-do list in the notepad) and long-term projects (in the calendar) will help your child learn time management skills, which will help them for the rest of their lives.

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