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Back to School on a Budget: Bargain Shopping for Back to School Supplies and Clothes


by Megan Torrini

Kids love summer vacation, but there is also a lot of excitement in the air- new classes, new teachers, new friends and new stuff!

Parents are ready for the kids to start the school year as well, but all the new clothes, new shoes, new backpacks and new school supplies can add financial stress to an already tight budget.

So, what to do? First things first. Take stock in what you already have. There's a good chance your kids still have binders, notebooks, pens and pencils still laying around. Don't buy anything new until you inventory all of your kid's clothes and to see what still fits.

Next, set a budget and stick to it. Better yet, set a budget, stick to it and do what you can to pay with cash.

Finally, find yourself a bargain:

• Hit the yard sales and garage sales while there's still time. In other words- the cold and snow will be here soon. Garage sales can be fantastic places to find back to school bargains on clothes, book bags and supplies like notebook paper, pencils and pens.
• Change your way of thinking. There is nothing wrong with the Goodwill. You can find perfectly good merchandise here, and oftentimes high-end stores donate their overstock-unused and complete with original price tags.
• Consignment shops are a great way to help with back to school expenses. Today's consignment shops only accept top of the line clothing, and you receive a percentage of the cost of clothes you consign.
• Retail experts predict a challenging back to school shopping season, as families struggle to balance the rising cost of food, gas and energy prices in a weakening economy. Look for sales everywhere, especially places where you might not normally shop.

If you'd rather skip the stores and online shop instead:

• Check out www.naughtycodes.com and www.couponcabin.com or Google your favorite retailers and the words "coupon codes" and "promotional codes" to get even more savings.
• Take the time and look for retailers that offer free shipping.
• Take advantage of such sites as www.ebay.com and www.craigslist.com , where anything and everything can be found.

Keep in mind that your child doesn't need everything now. If you buy items now, just because they are on sale, and your child doesn't end up wearing them, well, that's just a waste of money. Instead plan ahead to visit your favorite retailers in late September and early October for the back to school clearance sales.

Finally, parents can use this back to school shopping season to teach their children a life lesson about budgeting and finances- how sometimes it's about what you need, not just what you want.

Megan has a range of education and experience-from Resource Management and Forestry to Information Technology. She also enjoys freelance writing and is currently developing her own online business. Megan lives in Inver Grove Heights with her husband Tony, daughter Isabel, son John, and two beautiful but very naughty Siberian Huskies, Mika and Timber.

Categories: Advice, Ideas & Stories, Feature Stories, MomShare,

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New FeatureRelated Articles: Five Tips for Saving Big on Back-to-school Shopping, Five Ways to Maximize Your Back to School Budget,

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