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Getting Ready for School in a Tight Economy
Parents everywhere are trying to stretch their dollars to cover the necessary items that their children need for Back to School. Then there are the unnecessary items that somehow make their way into the shopping basket, such as cute erasers, smelly pencils and various other items not on the list. We've not even mentioned school clothes / uniforms, lunchboxes, or backpacks.
According to the National Retail Foundation, the average American family will spend $606.40 on clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics. The weak economy is still playing a role, and more people are buying store brand/generic products and shopping at discount stores and online.Here are some steps that you can take to ensure that you are getting the most for your money.
- Make a budget.
- Categorize your needs by the most likely shopping destination. For example, don't buy a backpack at an office supply store.
- Involve your children and have them help you look in the newspapers and online for the best deals. Don't forget to look for free shipping offers that are offered on many websites.
- Clean out last year's school supplies and see what can be used in the coming year.
- Tell your kids to stop growing. Okay, I know that won't work. I've tried.
Where I'm Shopping
- Backpacks / Lunch Boxes: L.L. Bean. Although this is a premium store, they make a product that is well worth the money, plus there is a lifetime guarantee on their products.
- Uniforms: I have to buy the shirts from the school vendor, but buy pants and shorts at either Walmart, Target, Old Navy or Gap. I've also recently become a big fan of J.C. Penney and Sears. If you have boys, you may need reinforced knees in the pants.
- Supplies: This is a combination of Walmart, Target and Office Depot. I've learned over the years that saving $.10 on a folder isn't worth the extra gas to get to the store. Shop close to your home and only drive a distance if purchasing electronics or high-ticket items. One tip: I do recommend that you buy plastic folders over paper, they last longer and can be reused year to year.
Good luck with your shopping and remember, stick to your budget!
--Myra Gold, mother of Jack, 13 and Theo, 9