School shopping is a major expensive in a family’s annual budget and in these tough economic times many families are finding that they have to cut back or search for discounts on their necessary supplies. Back to school shopping isn’t as easy as it used to be a few years ago when our parents took us shopping for our school supplies. We shopped for pencils and pens, a calculator and a maybe a Trapper Keeper notebook, if we were lucky. However; the notebooks that kids shop for today aren’t made of paper or vinyl and Velcro but are high tech laptop computers costing hundreds of dollars. School supplies are more expensive today than ever before so parents are looking for any way they can to bargain shop and save money but still get the quality supplies that their children need to have in order to get the best education they can. Most schools today supply lists of age appropriate school supplies that children will need to start their new school year. This gives parents the ability to budget through the summer. But there are many other ways that parents can save money when buying school supplies for their children.
Starting in early to mid July discount retailers and pharmacies will start to advertise their back to school specials. These ads also are played on TV over and over again and sales flyers stuff local newspapers. By taking advantage of these advertised sales, the savings do add up but parents can increase savings more if they have extra space in their homes to keep an inventory of these supplies. Buying extra, at sale prices will save money mid-year when school supplies always seem to run out. A large family with a lot of school age children might benefit from buying in bulk from a club store like Sam’s Club or BJ’s where they are able to buy large quantities at discounted prices. Unfortunately some families operate on tight budgets already and don’t have extra money to pay for additional inventory even at discounted prices. These types of families will benefit from coupons and special sales at any time of the year when they can pick up school supplies that are starting to run low, if they are unable to purchase extra supplies over the summer when retail stores run their back to school specials.
Word of mouth is a great way for any parent to get discounts on school supplies, especially large tag items such as computers or adding machines. Parents should have a parenting network to begin with but by communicating bargains to parents of other children and them doing the same, it will ensure that every child gets the supplies that he needs and families will then perhaps save money for other school activities or family activities.
The best way for parents to buy high priced items such as laptops that some schools now require, is to look for advertised sales. If parents cannot afford to purchase a high priced school item such as a computer when it is on sale, most stores have layaway programs. Layaway programs were on the decline but with the current state of the economy most stores have again started layaway programs. Using layaway programs allows parents are able to buy high ticket items at sale prices and pay for them on a weekly or monthly basis.
The cost of school supplies will no doubt continue to skyrocket but our kids need to get a quality education. It is up to us as parents to research and budget so that our kids have the supplies that they need. Parents need to be aware of each of their children’s needs for the upcoming school year and plan accordingly. If we all do this we will save money and our children will have the tools they need to help them get a quality education.