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Back to school doesn’t need to break the bank

backtoschoolWith the kids heading back to school, it’s time to start thinking about supplies (and saving money on them).

“Family Circle” magazine offers ways to save on back-to-school shopping.

According to the magazine, parents should start early. They recommend tracking the sales and swap before you shop.

“During the weeks leading up to the first day of school, I start checking all the Sunday inserts from Staples, Office Max, Office Depot, Wal-Mart, and Target,” says one parent. “The stores have specials at different times, so I note down on a piece of paper what I need, which store has the deal, and when. I also clip and collect coupons in an envelope. It’s tedious but in the end the extra effort saves us loads of money.”

If there’s a moms’ group in your area, organize a clothing swap party where people can exchange items for free, says “Family Circle.” Ask everyone to show up with their kids’ gently used garments.

The magazine also says to download textbooks whenever you can, find bargains at yard sales or other secondhand stores beyond the big box retailers, stock up on supplies such as pencils and notebooks throughout the summer, and buy in the fall for next year.

Organized Home, a website devoted to staying on top of everyday things, also recommends starting early. Cynthia Ewer, author of the “Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Organized,” says on the Organized Home website that parents should be aware that the “two-month marketing exercise for retailers, coupled with cash-strapped school districts placing more of the supply burden onto students’ families, it can be a tough job to get the kids outfitted without breaking the bank.”

Ewer recommends shopping at home first and compiling all the supplies you already have before heading to the store. She also says to create a supplies budget and stick to it, as well as shopping late or early when the deals are at their best.

According to allyou.com, reuse the basics. Opt for plastic folders, dividers and binders instead of cardboard ones. If last year’s spiral notebooks aren’t used up, tear out the old pages and decorate a new cover.

Adding these basic steps will send your kids off to school for another successful year without added stress on your wallet.

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