How much will you spend this year on School Supplies? Is it close to $700? The National Retail Federation estimates that the average family will spend about $688 on School Supplies in 2012. While shoppers online will spend even more, averaging closer to $900 on school supplies for their children this year. I am not yet a parent, but I could not imagine spending that much money, especially being such a frugal person.
Below you will find a few tips to help you save money this season on your back to school shopping, and find ways to stretch your dollar further.
1.) Check what you have BEFORE you shop.
You may think that your child needs new items simply because it's the right thing to do. So many parents I know freak out before school and head to the stores and buy their child a whole wardrobe and arsenal of supplies. Now a days teachers are putting out lists of items that are required for children to start school in their class. At my local walmart you can find "Back to School Supply Lists" for different schools and grades in your area.Check these lists against what you already have and mark off what you still need. When it comes to clothes, go through your children's closet and see what can be salvaged instead of buying new. Generally a child will need new clothing but not as much as you may think. See what still fits and what can be used for the current year.
2.) Get Thrifty
You would be surprised how much great clothing parents donate to local thrift shops, goodwills, and sell at garage sales. Just because the item is "second hand" doesn't mean it has lost its use. I have seen some great clothes (some with tags still in place) at local thrift and consignment shops around here. Check your local stores and yard sales to get great bargains on school clothes and even supplies. If you have a teenager you could check Plato's Closet. Plato's sells gently used teen clothing that is mostly designer or "brand name" for your fashion sensitive teens.
3.) Watch for sales
Be sure to keep an eye on local sales in your area for the best deals on supplies. Watch weekly deals at stores like Staples, Office Depot, and Office Max to get the best deals on your school supplies. Often times these stores issue $$ off coupons and % off coupons in addition to great sales on the supplies your child is going to need. Cut coupons when you see them and utilize them in addition to the sales to score the best savings.
4.) Shop Year-Round
After the back to school rush when things have settled down is one of the best times to shop for back to school supplies. Sometime last year in September I found Five Star Notebooks on sale for $.50 each at Walmart and 2 packs of Uni-Ball Pens for only $.50 at Walmart as well. Paired with $1 off coupons for both not only did I get the items FREE but I also made $.50 on EACH to spend on other purchases (or keep in my pocket) at Walmart. All year long you can find great deals on school supplies to hold for the following year or to use within the current year for your child. Keep an eye out for clearance sales right after school starts and toward the end of the year for supplies.
5.) Re-use and Refashion when possible
So let's say your child has a pair of jeans that still fit but just aren't "in style" anymore. Consider DIY projects and refashion those jeans to become a cute skirt. Their are several ways you can refashion and re-use what you already have to create great clothing for your kids. Have your child show you what they like by looking online and in store ads and brainstorm ideas to create those fashions yourself. When I was a kid my mom would patch old jeans with cute patches and sequins to create updated styles with jeans and shorts I already had from the previous school year.
Here is a simple way to turn those old jeans into a cute skirt for the little girl in your life:
(Picture and Instructions courtesy of reader Diana!)
What you will need:
- An old pair of jeans
- Thread (Embroidery thread is what I would use)
- A needle
- Sewing pins
- Seam Ripper
- Lay out the jeans on a flat surface and cut the legs off to the desired length for the skirt.
- Turn the jeans inside-out and use a seam ripper to rip out the inseam
- Rip the front seam all the way up to the zipper.Repeat with the back seam, going up the same distance.
- Use the fabric from the jeans legs to fill in the void at the center of the skirt, pin in place
- Now, stitch the center fabric in place. You can use a jean colored thread to hide the stitches or a colored thread for added fashion
- Hem the bottom of the skirt
That's it! You now have a cute skirt from your old jeans! You can experiment with these easy to follow directions. Cut out patches and sew colored fabric, cut out wedges from the sides of the seam and add colored or khaki fabric, etc. The possibilities are endless!
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