Hack Your Way Back to School

It is back to school time! Some of you may already be done preparing.  However, if you just noticed it’s the end of August this post is for you.  In the Northeast this past winter felt about 10 months long but summer flew by.  Needless to say I have some work to do to get the kids ready in about a week.  According to this Deloitte survey the average parent is going to spend over $500 per child to send them to class.  You don’t need to lose your mind (or your paycheck) to send your kids back to school.  Here are a few ways to save.

Hack #1 – Your kid has clothes already

Most of the back to school spending is on a new wardrobe.  Now I realize they grow pretty fast but unless every child has outgrown everything they own in August this is not a necessity.  Their backpack from last year probably still works well too.

If you want to get your child a new outfit for the first day of school that is great but do they need a new closet full of clothes?  Probably not.

Retailers know that this is the season where wallets open up.  Wait a few weeks or until your kid actually needs new clothes and shop then.  You will probably find better deals and less frenzy at the store if you wait.

Hack #2 – Hit up the Dollar Store

Most basic items you can probably get at the dollar store to save you some money.  It may not be the best selection or fanciest of items but kids go through (and lose) a lot of supplies so quantity might outweigh quality in this area.

Lists for school supplies are usually provided by the school.  Check out what they wants your child to have so you don’t waste money on things they don’t need or can’t use.

My kids have become obsessed with Star Wars lately but it was Ninja Turtles and Frozen a few months ago.  They change their minds a lot so I don’t care if they get plain notebooks that don’t have their favorite characters on them.  Chances are you have no loyalty to any brand binder or glue stick so go for the bargains there too.

Hack #3 – C.R.E.A.M

Some parents may feel the need to take the kids on a shopping spree before school starts.  If you are going in debt to do this or causing your family financial stress it is not worth it.  Having a budget doesn’t make you a bad parent.  It may turn your kid into a sarcastic personal finance blogger but it won’t ruin them.  Set a budget before you step foot in a store and stick to it.  Even better – bring cash.  You can not go over budget if you only have cash on you.  It will help you look at price tags and be more conscious of what you are doing to avoid having to put something back at the register.  This is what I do when we get the kids clothes.  In the past we get the cash from consigning their old stuff and that is the new clothing budget.

Hack #4 – Consignment and Discount Stores

All of the money I’ve made consigning my kids clothes means that some lucky parent got a deal.  If you haven’t ever consigned they don’t take just anything at most places.  Typically it has to be a good brand, in excellent condition and in season.

If you have clothes that your kids have outgrown try to locate a kids consignment shop and get that money!

Also, shop around.  You might find some excellent clothes, jackets or shoes that are new or barely used to bring home.  I remember consigning some beautiful baby outfits that I got at my baby shower and forgot about completely.  Baby clothes may be tough to part with but I’d rather see them go to another child than sit in a bag in my attic.  If you don’t have good consignment stores near by try to do your shopping at a discount store like Marshalls or T.J. Maxx.  They have great kids sections and the prices are better for name brands.

Are you ready for back to school? Does the time go by too fast for you too?  While the kids will be ready I’m not sure I am.  Share your favorite back to school secret in the comments!


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