It’s hard to believe that we are almost back to school. I know some of you don’t have to start the end of summer ritual until Labor Day comes, but in Atlanta school starts in the middle of August and is just a few weeks today. This means it is time to be a smart shopper and take inventory of everything you have in your house from last season. Did the kids outgrow their clothes? Is it time for a new backpack? What supplies are lurking in the back of drawer that got deposited there at the end of school last year? While we are all trying to save a few bucks, here are some smart ideas to stretch your dollar during the back to school season.
- Run it through the business – If you have kids that meet the requirements to be able to work in your business, you might want to consider buying all and any of the supplies you need through the business. Businesses needs pens, pencils, notebooks, and everyday supplies so you might want to think about having the kids tag along with you on your next trip to Staples or Office Depot. All of those business stores also offer computer items, calculators, and printer so think about whether or not it’s a good time to make one of those purchases as well. Remember, you should talk to your CPA, but if the kids work in the business some of these may qualify for a legitimate write off on your taxes.
- Wait Four Weeks – If you are smart and buy only what you really need, the super good deals will happen about four weeks after school starts. This is when most of the large department stores and all purpose stores begin taking school items off of their shelves and you can get a whale of a deal on binders, school supplies, and even clothes. If you spend the time to make of list of what you need for each of your kids, buy first only the items that are a must for the first month of school. If you wait on the ‘nice to have’ list, you can end up picking up most of these items for 30% to 50% off of their original value.
- Skip The School Picture – I know a lot of parents aren’t going to like me for this one. But, let’s be honest and say that 90% of the school pictures we all took when we were kids really stunk. The one or two of them that you still have somewhere pretty much just give you a good chuckle when you see that your house key was still hanging around your neck when you took the picture. Even though modern technology has improved, it never seems that the school photographer gets ‘my kid’ looking their very best. After you drop a few hundred bucks, were the grandparents really that thankful that they got their little 3 x 5 or wallet photo?
- Swap Clothes – I have three kids so I know how expensive clothing can be for kids that seem to grow like weeds. We found a family that were friends of ours who had similar taste in clothes and kids that were different ages so we were able to swap some clothes with them. As long as the clothes are gently used, you can essentially get clothes for your kids for free by swapping with another family. Things like Polo shirts don’t come cheap, so this can be a great way to get a garment that will wear well for a school year or two for your child without even opening up your wallet. The key is to find a family with boys and girls different ages and that has a taste the same as yours.
- Buy A Backpack At 6 p.m. – No, I don’t mean literally buy a backpack at 6 p.m.. One really cool website that you should check out is www.6pm.com which has a dizzying array of different backpacks. It’s operated by Zappos, and has backpacks that start as low as $7.99 to major brands of different backpacks. Kids tend to beat up on their backpacks throughout the school year, so they may need to be replaced every couple of years. This is a cool site to check out.
I won’t spend this article talking about the cost of raising a child although those of you reading this that have kids can attest to the fact it feels like a never ending string of purchases you need to make. By making a detailed list for each of your kids and what supplies you need to stock up on in the house, you can surely save money by not making any unnecessary purchases. I hope these five tips might add a few bucks back in your wallet!
Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
Co-CEO and Founder of oXYGen Financial, Inc – The Leaders in Gen X & Y Financial Advice and Services
Visit to www.oxygenfinancial.net to request a free consultation with the leading financial experts for people in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s in the country.
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