Tuesday, August 24, 2010

10 Money Saving Tips for Back To School

I have 5 kids and this year is one of those monumental years. It will be the first year that all, yes ALL, of my kids will be in school. The 4 older ones are gone all day, every day and the youngest will be in preschool for 3 hours a day, 2 days a week:-)

I am one of those parents who dances for joy when school is back on...I love my kids, and I appreciate them even more when they are not in my face figthing gone all day and we can do the fun stuff with them at night...LOL!!

"It's the most wonderful time of the year" I LOVE that commercial on tv...

I wanted to share my wonderfully, awesome to me, tips on saving money when sending the kids back to school.

As you may know, we are a cheap, er, frugal family. We like to pinch pennies and are getting better at saving for holidays and trips. The fact that I am working this year makes it even easier though:-)

Tip # 1 - Reuse as much as you can from last year. Go through the old school stuff and see what you have left. There may be enough pencils, pencil crayons, pens, rulers, paper etc...leftover from last year that you can use again this year.

Tip #2 - Hand me downs:-) I know some kids just don't like them, but for us we utilize the best that gets passed down. We get lots of offers for clothes for the younger girls mostly, and that is great. They seem to go through the most, and quickly!! New rule at our house though is 1 bag in, 1 bag out...otherwise Mt. Neverest erupts again and we have a hard time bringing it under control!!

Tip #3 - Even though hand me downs are great, every kid likes receiving new clothes. We watch for the sales and sometimes the sales are even better then the regular department store. The teen and preteen in our house like to have name brand clothing. I held out a long time before breaking down and buying stuff like that for them. I wanted to know that they would be happy with anything and I am very thankful for my kids. So, for all their hard work that they put into the house, we rewarded them this year with some nice new clothes. Aeropostal seems to be the latest craze here and they had an awesome sale - so for my son we got 2 pairs of jeans and 2 shirts for $60, and because of an extra discount they had going on there we saved $10 off...then my daughter I rang through seperate so we could get another $10 off!! and hers came to $40 for 7 shirts...not bad. And just as little as the other local department stores...the kids were thrilled!!

Tip #4 - School lunches...I know, how can you save on that and prepare ahead of time? We have watched for sales on juice boxes, individual snack items and purchased reusable water bottles for each of them. We also go to a local store here where they sell seconds on boxed snacks, so the box is broken and we get the box of $2.99 snacks for .80 instead. We stock up BIG TIME from this store...

Tip #5 - Another thing we have figured out is that we wait until the end of the first week of school. By this time, there is some sort of letter that has been sent home to all the kids listing some items that they need to bring in. Sometimes it is individual and sometimes it is for the class as a whole. By waiting for these lists we don't get suckered into buying what the ads are telling us we need. Only buying what is requested saves money in the long run, since nothing is wasted.

Tip #6 - Check out the special food days that the school offers. We usually send money with the kids for pizza days, because it is fairly cheap. We hold back on hot dog days because really, we could just send them with a hot dog and it would be way cheaper then the $1 they ask for. We have a rule of $5 a month per kid towards purchasing school lunches. So our bigger kids generally get something once a month instead of weekly, or they will use some of their own money for treats.

Tip #7 - Indoor and outdoor shoes are requested by many teachers. Again, I wait until the teacher tells us if they are going to require them or not. Usually we will see what we have kicking around the house. We have a few pairs of shoes for each of the younger kids (and they are generally the ones who need the 2 pairs) so we will pick the best pair for indoor and the other pair for outdoor. We have also purchased shoes, when needed, at the second hand stores to keep costs down.

Tip #8 - We had some backpacks given to us this year, so they all have a new one to start out with. Our 12 year old wanted to buy one at the store, she had her eyes on one and has offered to pay half of the cost. It is a $25 backpack...we are still deciding if we are going to do that or not. But this is another way that we cut our costs. The older kids have little jobs and make a bit of money, part of what we expect is that they help out with some of their expenses. Not all, but they are learning to take responsiblity for what they want. It is a good lesson too:-)

Tip #9 - COUPONS!! I know that I mentioned a coupon I used at Aeropostale last week, we use coupons A LOT!! My hubby even has the nickname Coupon at work:-) We can save a whole bunch of money by using coupons and it is actually kinda fun and exhilarating when you walk away knowing that you saved a bunch of money:-)

Tip #10 - HAVE FUN!! I know this is not money saving, but don't stress out...don't get stuck in the commercial aspect of it all. Make it an exciting time for the kids, that will ease any transition issues that they may be having. If you are on a lower income, there is lots of help out there, use it!! And just HAVE FUN!! Enjoy the last days of summer and make those memories that will hold you all over until Christmas:-)

It's the most wonderful time of the year!!!

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