Contributed by Tim Brugger, Catalogs.com Top 10 Guru
It’s just about that time; woo!
Every child of learning age should be happily ensconced in a classroom. Well, not everything associated with the kids heading back to school is necessarily good. Back to school means back to school shopping and if you’re not careful, it can turn out to be an expensive proposition.
Many thrifty parents are stretching out their back to school purchases, holding out a few weeks for sales and special deals. Be patient, and there are back to school savings to be had, as evidenced by the following Top 10 list.
Corralling all the requisite clothes your child needs to head off to school can seem daunting, to say the least. In addition to the latest, greatest jeans and tops, there are PE clothes to consider, jackets, stylish berets and maybe even a uniform or two. Look for kids’ clothes on sale. My motto when it comes to clothes has always been when in doubt, shop discount. Okay, it doesn’t quite rhyme, but its pretty close.
Pencils, crayons, snazzy binders, ruled paper; the list of needed supplies seems never-ending. Keeping your eyes open for sales from either the big retailers or online stores will ensure all those little items add up to back to school savings, not big costs. Craft and art supply sales are great for stocking up: you know they’ll come in handy for those last minute projects.
The days of carrying books and other school-type goodies in anything other than a stylishly crafted, fully functional backpack are long since gone. Unfortunately, so too are the prices of yore. If there are any complaints about picking up last year’s style, a great back to school savings plan, simply tell them they’re going to retro; it’s all the rage don’t you know.
The beauty of saving money on electronics is you only have to wait a couple of weeks, and then a new version of the same item (PDAs, etc.) comes out and suddenly the original is affordable. They may miss out on the newest feature to direct link their gadget to the orbiting space station, but it’ll do in a pinch.
Back to school means back to the shoe store for a lot of parents. If your kids are in the feet-are-growing-exponentially phase, buy a pair a half size too big for back to school. There’s a good chance they’ll last beyond Halloween that way, and it’ll give you a chance to show off your unyielding back to school saving prowess.
5. Notebook computer
Chances are when your kids mention they need a notebook, they’re not referring to the spiral bound sort used for random doodling during their ever-engrossing Poly Sci class. You can save a bundle by going basic; avoiding all the bells and whistles is a great way to minimize the damage. But do make sure the notebook computer or laptop you choose has what it takes to run the programs they need, crunch the data fast enough and store everything they do. Too little on any of those makes it more of a time-waster than a school tool.
4. Lunch box
Unfortunately, sending our children off to school toting a brown paper bag is like sacrificing them to the lions. With thermal bags and old-school Spiderman and Disney boxes readily available, what you carry your lunch in is every bit as crucial as what you have for lunch. Protect your kids and your wallet by picking them up a lunch box they can be proud of (or, at least not ridiculed for). Avoiding boxes that celebrate the latest craze, whatever that is this week, is also a great back to school savings plan.
3. Hand sanitizer
No longer reserved for the obsessive compulsive among us, including hand sanitizers on your back to school list is an idea that is long over due. We’ve known for years that schools are an incubator for germs. There are simply too many kids in too small an area for them to not generously share their coughs and sneezes with those around them. Keep an eye out for the multi-pack deals. You’ll save money and your kids can take one for class, while you’ll have one for around the house.
Especially well suited for older students, a lot of the books kids are using in the classroom can be had in eBook form. An eReader can free up a lot of room in the stylishly crafted backpack (Top 10 item #8), and the potential back problems that come with carrying all those books.
1. Flash drive
One of the greatest inventions known to man, next to sourdough bread, is the flash drive. And back to school savings can be had, but it may take a bit of forethought. If you haven’t purchased a computer flash drive before, I’ll forewarn you. The guy at the store will insist you need enough memory to download the entire NASA database; this is not the case. Working on papers at home, and taking the flash drive to school for printing and turning in (hopefully on time) to the teacher doesn’t require ultra-terra-mega-giga bytes. Just choose something cool enough that your kids won’t lose.