Sunday, August 11, 2013

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4 Tips for Getting Ready for Back-to-School On a Budget & How to Help Others Get Ready Too!


I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Last year, was the first year I had children in 3 different classrooms because our twins were in the same classroom during preschool.  I have to say that I was a little bit flustered because I had a different list of school supplies and wishlist items from each class.  I could not believe how much I spent after all was said and done.  This year, I feel like an old pro compared to last year.  I had everything done for back-to-school 3 weeks early and now I can enjoy the last few weeks of summer vacation with my children.

If you are a little stressed out about the amount of items on your child's back-to-school list or about the total cost of those items, here are few tips on how to cut down on spending . . .

1.  Shop for clothing, outerwear, and shoes in advance.  Since I shop for children's clothes in the next size up during end-of-the-season sales, I usually have a good supply of fall clothes for each of my 3 children.  Then I just need to take advantage of the back-to-school sales to fill in the holes in each child's wardrobe.  If you are buying boots in advance, then I would buy 2 sizes up so that they will last from fall through the end of the winter.

2.  Reuse last year's school supplies.  Even though it seems nice to have everything brand new for the start of the school year, there is no reason why your child cannot use last year's backpack, lunch box, pencil box, pencils, pens, highlighters, crayons, markers, poly folders, etc . . . again if they are still in good condition.  On the same note, a younger sibling can use an older sibling's previous backpack or lunch box that may be too childish looking now that he or she is older.  The cost of school supplies can really add up, especially when you have more than one child.

3.  Buy school supplies in bulk or multi-packs.  You can buy school supplies at office supply stores or at warehouse stores in large quantities and then split them up between your children.  Purchasing this way is usually a better value.  You can also do the same thing for classroom donations.  If you only have one child, you can put the excess supplies away for next year.  Examples of things you can buy in bulk are yellow pencils, ballpoint pens, glue sticks, 2-pocket portfolios, safety scissors, disinfecting wipes, paper towels, boxed facial tissue, and hand sanitizer.

4.  Invest in reusable bottles and food containers.  You probably already know that the cost of bottled water, aluminum foil, and sandwich bags can add up quickly.  Buying reusable water bottles, snack containers, and sandwich or lunch containers will help to save money in the long run (and it's better for the environment).  If you are good about washing these items daily, then you will only need two sets . . . one to use and one as a spare in case your child forgets their lunch box at school.  Just be sure to label all your child's bottles and food containers so that they do not accidentally go missing.

Unfortunately for some families, doing the above does not make getting ready for back-to-school affordable enough.  I know such families exist in my children's grade school community and they likely do in yours as well.  That is why I love the idea of an online school supply drive!

Once again this year, the Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA) has teamed up with Disney to run an online supply drive.  To participate, it costs you nothing but your time.  All you need to do is play the Supply Drive Game, a multiple choice trivia type game.  For every 5 questions you answer correctly, a school supply kit will be donated to a child in need who is a member of the BGCA.  It literally took me less than 2 minutes to answer 5 questions correctly, so if you devote 20 minutes of your time to playing this game, 10 club kids could each receive a school supply kit because you cared.

For more tips on preparing your children for back-to-school, visit GreatFutures.org.