Be sure to focus on what your children really need, not their whims and wants, and to time your purchases to coincide with the best deals.
Here are some money-saving tips for savvy spending throughout the school year:
Clothing: Did you know that August is not necessarily the best time to buy clothes for school? Retailers often have lower prices in April and May, when they are trying to clear out inventory to make room for summer clothes. Consider buying your kids’ school clothes then, for the following year, remembering that you may need to buy a size or two larger. Don’t buy fashions that might be out of style next year.
School supplies: Many deals can be found in the few weeks before school starts, but bargains on everything from pens and highlighters to sticky notes can be found throughout the year at online office supply stores. You can even get some items for free by ordering a catalog and paging through it, looking for free trial offers.
Sports equipment: There are many ways to save money on kids’ sports equipment. If you prefer to buy new, the best deals often can be at the end of the season for a particular sport. Another money-saving tip is to consider buying used equipment through online classified ads, thrift shops, or local bulletin boards at sports shops and elsewhere. You may be able to borrow items by asking relatives and friends if they have any sports equipment to share. Borrowing may be particularly helpful if you are not certain your child is enamored with a sport and will play a full season.
However, there are some exceptions concerning borrowed or used sports equipment. Personal items such as mouth guards should not be shared or reused and helmets are best when bought new, so that you are sure they fit well and provide the best possible head protection. Also, it’s best not to pass-on shoes that have molded to the previous owner’s feet overtime.
Discount gift cards: Some online sites offer discount prices for gift certificate purchases, so you can increase your buying power by paying an amount lower than the face value of the gift card. For example, you might be able to purchase a retailer’s $125 gift certificate for $100. This is an especially good option if you know you are going to buy all of your school clothes or school supplies from one retailer. Do an online search for “discount gift certificates,” to look for current offers from retailers you like.
Save, save, save for graduation: Think about setting up a special fund at the beginning of the school year for expenses associated with your child’s graduation, such as cap and gown, portrait and yearbook. Senior year in high school can be a budget-buster, since you also will likely face expenses for fees associated with testing and admission to colleges. If you plan to take your child on trips to preview colleges during his or her junior or senior year in high school, be sure to budget meals, gas and lodging. It all adds up, so the sooner you start saving money – the better.
What are your money-saving tips for the school year? Share the wealth with us on Facebook.