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Save Big Bucks on Back to School Stuff

There was a time when Dick and Jane returned to school that parents had only to concern themselves with finding a new pair of shoes and a couple of outfits for their children to properly begin their school year. Throw in the requisite Snoopy lunchbox with Thermos and off your kids went to school. See Dick and Jane walk to school. See Mommy and Daddy with intact budgets. Today, all of that has changed. Now Dick and Jane can be expected to show up at school with all of the above plus a backpack, desk supplies, maybe even a computer. What was once an incidental expense has now become a major part of the family budget: back to school supplies. Chances are that Dick and Jane are not the only children going to school this year fully loaded with a book bag full of the latest school supplies and gadgets. Read on, and we shall explore this rapidly growing trend. We will also discuss how you can save money on back to school supplies.

Crayons and pencils; paper and notebooks; rulers and computers; and slick covered knapsacks: these are a few of your child's favorite things! No longer is your local elementary school responsible for supplying all of their students' needs. Now you are expected to shop your local Wal-Mart or Target and come up with everything that children your need. These local school supply providers also provide a complete list available at the store that details exactly what your child will need to be completely supplied for school.

Call it strapped budgets or expense sharing, but back to school budgeting now involves direct parental involvement like never before. School districts cannot supply every need of their pupils, and parents have been called upon to take up the slack. Previously you may have been able to get away with sending Dick and Jane to school with the bare minimum, but you would be considered to be neglectful if you were to do that today.

Fortunately there are some ways you can control your kids' back to school budget:

  • Tax Free Weekends
    States are cooperating with parents by offering annual tax free weekends a few weeks prior to the first day of school. Most items pertaining to back to school stuff are tax free and stores take advantage of the legislature's kindness by holding sales at the same time for the biggest savings. How do you find out if your state or area has an advantage like tax free weekends available? You could try putting school supplies tax free weekend in your search engine on your computer and do an Internet search. You could also look on your local state government web site and see if they offer a tax free weekend in your area right about the time school starts. Many of the places that offer tax free weekends have a limit on the amount that can be spent on specific types of school items and still receive tax free status. Check with your local state government for further information.

  • Shop Online
    Many items your children must have could be available online through retailers taking advantage of the back to school shopping season. It is likely that you won't pay sales tax on your purchases and shipping could be free on orders totaling a certain amount such as $50 or more. Also, the variety of items you can choose for your child may be better online, while the amount of money you spend might be less. Just be sure that you have an accurate list of the items your child needs for their specific grade. Don’t let a big sale or your child’s persuasiveness talk you into buying more than you really need.

  • Plan Ahead of Time
    Save your arguing with your kids for your home. Don't be pressured into buying something that your children don't need. Be on the same page before you leave for the store. Here is where a list of specific items from school is really handy. If you have a list from the school, you can stick to that list. Don’t add any impulse buys. Also remind the child that you only really need to buy the items that are necessary. Later, after school has been in session for a while, you and your child can come back to school for a special item that he or she really wanted, but didn’t desperately need at the time. Besides, your child will be able to see the latest styles, and buy accordingly.

  • Don’t Buy Everything
    Perhaps you don’t really have to buy everything on the school supply list right now. Buy the necessities of paper, pens and pencils, an eraser, a ruler and maybe some glue. This is a good basic list for that first day of school, especially if you didn’t get that specified list from the teacher before school started. Your school might also have rules and regulations about whether backpacks are allowed, what types of clothing are appropriate, and so on, so you might want to get a copy of the school handbook. School handbooks are frequently also available on school websites these days, as well. Many teachers suggest items that are not actually required, or not needed that first day of school. Explain the terms required and optional to your children, and explain to them that you can get some of these items later.

Happy back to school shopping to you and yours!