The new school year brings with it a lot of 'new's. A new year. A new class. New subjects. Possibly new friends. And most important of all, new school supplies which can be quite merciless on your wallet, as you may have already figured out by now. And thus begins the frantic search for ways to save money on them. Relax, we've all been there. With the high prices and the even higher expectations of kids these days, we've got to resort to some rather stringent measures to control the amount of money that is spent on items that can easily be substituted with less expensive alternatives. It's a compromise that must be understood and accepted by parents and children alike. But that's really easier said than done, isn't it? Nevertheless, let's take a look at some really easy, practical, and not-really-over-the-top ways to save some precious money on school supplies.
What's Already There
You can start off by making a list of all the things that your child is going to require for the new year. Once you have this list, you can work your way into it by doing the following. The first rule when being thrifty and saving up is to do an inventory of the things that are already available within your home. Now, I'm not talking old and/or half-used stuff, but take a few hours to look around carefully and thoroughly in your kids' room for things that are lying new and unused since the last time you went shopping. Empty out the drawers, organize the closet, stack up the books, get the bags emptied and cleaned. You're bound to chance upon some delightful treasures kept aside so carefully that your kid forgot it was even there (or did that happen just with me??). Don't chuck or save anything in the process of looking. First, simply gather everything that you find and keep them in one place. Now, take two big boxes, mark one 'KEEP' and the other 'THROW'. Carefully sift through all the items that you have found. Unused erasers can be cleaned with used ones. Unsharpened pencils, well just put them in a pouch. If you find notebooks that have empty pages, you can simply tear out those pages neatly, combine all of them from all the books, and have them spirally bound with an attractive cover. If you think your kid won't really like it too much, do it without telling him. Do a fine job and show it to him like it's a new one. When he loves it, you can spill the beans. Salvage anything that you can, but not at the cost of disheartening your child. It is a new school year after all. The supplies are probably the only thing he'll be excited about.
What More is Needed
Now, once you've gone through the remnants of the last school year, you will undoubtedly have a fair idea of what more is required. Assuming that you've made that list that I spoke about at the beginning, you now have to simply tick off the usable stuff that you have scavenged, and decide about what else is needed. Once you have this, let's get to where and how you can save money in buying them. First, keep an eye out for sales, offers, schemes, and discounts that stores announce. These stores have been planning to lure you with their attractive discounts, their incredibly low prices, their guarantee of excellent products, and as much more as they can offer. Let them! Scrounge around for what you think will be the best store(s) to get the supplies for your kids. It would be wise to keep an entire day aside for this. Why? Well, if saving money is your ultimate goal, then you're going to have to be willing to go that extra mile (literally and figuratively) to ensure that you actually do. What may be available at one store at a certain price may be available at another for almost half off. This goes for everything from stationery, to bags to lunch boxes. You can even buy accessories and clothes on a budget (forget about that little detail, did we?). Be willing to look around, and you're sure to find great deals on almost everything that you need. There is one thing that you need to keep in mind though. While you decide to cut your expenses, try as much as you can not to compromise on the quality of the products that you buy. They won't last long and you'll only end up spending double the amount all over again. The key is to be able to look and judge whether a particular item is worth the amount you're spending on it. However, don't expect everything to be on sale and to come with a discount. There are bound to be a few items that are steeply priced, and for good reason. Cut down on what you can, so that you're not short when you need to buy these very items.
When to Get It
When you go shopping also affects to a considerable extent, how much money you can save up on them. If you don't believe that, then a few flashbacks of last minute Christmas shopping are sure to make you. So, when is the best time to go shopping for school supplies? I'd say wait for the stores to put out their SALE boards, and then wait for the initial rush of buyers to die down. Bide your time, let people get their fill, then when the stores are a lot less crowded, you can walk in with your kid in tow and get whatever you need. The thing about timing is that it must be carefully planned. You can't wait for too long or all the good stuff will be gone. On the other hand, rushing in with everyone will only get you frustrated, not to mention the chances of petty brawls and general unpleasantness are high, what with having to keep an eye on your child and seeing that you don't overspend all at once. Too much pressure if you ask me. So, walk in late and get what you need. By late, I don't mean a day before school, and I certainly do not mean an hour before the store shuts. I'm relying on your knowledge of the store timings to assist you in reaching the store, getting good deals, and at a reasonable hour.
You'll be pleasantly surprised when you actually do the above. The value of money is something that must be inculcated in children at a young age. That is something that everyone will agree with. However, when your maternal side kicks in at the sight of your child's curled lip on wanting something that may or may not be necessary, it's going to be hard not to give in. So, set some ground-rules. Allow them a certain amount of money to spend on their own, or a number of items that you will let them splurge on. They'll be content and they'll also get their first of many lessons on spending wisely. It's the best use of the proverbial 'one stone to kill two birds', if you ask me. Have fun shopping!