Guest Post by Ann Michaels
It’s back to school season already – who would have thought a summer could roll by so quickly? But it does and it will just happen more quickly every year. Soon enough it will be time to find that perfect Halloween costume, make the perfect stuffing, and trim the Christmas tree. I remember my mother always insisted on putting out her nativity scene on Black Friday. Who knows why.
Lets not get ahead of ourselves though. First things first, it’s back to school season. And with the new clothes your child ‘needs’ along with the necessary supplies – pens, pencils, backpack, binders, glue…back to school season can make your wallet quite a bit lighter.
There are quite a few ways to save, though.
Shop At Home
This is something that so many forget to do – shop at home before you head out to the stores! You never know what you’ll find in your basement or in the pantry behind those year-old girl scout cookies. Take the time to do a full inventory of the supplies that you have around the house. Especially if you have kids that have a decent break between them – that ruler or pencil box that your child needs could be a hand-me-down that got shoved into the corner of the closet of your now-college-aged son.
And who knows what your younger child will find ‘cool’ – a find around the house could make them a lot more excited than a shiny new toy from the store.
Coupons and Circulars
As I’m sure you already know – you’re on this site, after all, coupons and circulars are your best friend. And if a store offers price matching, all the better! But don’t get into the back-to-school shopping trap. Just because the store has a great deal on your girls favorite crayons doesn’t mean that all of their school supplies are a great deal – in fact, usually its the opposite.
Buy What You Need
Does your kid really need all those different colored pens? And it’s not like they even asked for it – you just think, maybe they’ll need these? Keep doing that and soon enough you’ll have a pile of school supplies that you’re paying for and will never get used. Don’t fall into that trap either. Stay focused and really weigh each purchase, even if it’s only sticky notes and permanent markers.
Deal With Requests
Of course your child will want things not on your list, or will want a more expensive item than what you’re willing to pay for. But how to deal with those kinds of requests?
You’re on a budget, and you can’t simply cave – as much as you may want to. But there are a few methods of saying ‘no’ – or making sure that you stay on budget.
You can, of course, straight out say ‘No.’ You won’t be a popular parent for awhile, though – especially with your child talking about what all their friends have and they are going to be the weird kid who doesn’t have the hot-brand backpack. Resist the urge to give in. Or if they keep asking you to have it – if they’re old enough, or have savings from birthdays and various other milestones – ask them to pay the difference between what they want to spend and what you can spend, if they want it so badly.
I know this may sound like it is in direct contradiction with some of the other statements in this article, and saving money – but if you have to buy your child a new backpack, fork over that extra money – not for that brand that your kid wants so badly, but for the quality item that will last 5 years instead of five months. Go with an item that you won’t have to re-purchase every year come this time.
Shopping for back to school, like any other time, is a mix of restraint and judgement, as well as a few splurges here and there. Everything in moderation including moderation, right?
Ann Michaels is a freelance writer who balances work and family, nativity sets and Batman costumes, dinner and drinks. She loves her job and loves her life, whatever the day may bring.
Are you interested in guest posting on Family Friendly Frugality? Please email me heather @ familyfriendlyfrugality.com. I’m looking for anything in the family friendly/frugal niche, but specifically how-to’s, DIY posts and RECIPES! Must be original content not posted elsewhere.