If you’re not careful, back to school shopping can drain your resources faster than you can say Paris Hilton. Part of the problem is that your impulse to shower kiddo with as many glitter pens as she needs to ace that spelling test comes from a good place – spending money on education is good, right? This glitter pen will get Janie into Harvard, right? To help you make sound school spending decisions we’ve compiled the following tips and skips:
TIP: Give your kid a small discretionary amount of money to purchase things beyond looseleaf paper. It’ll help her appreciate budgeting, as well as the aforementioned glitter pen.
SKIP: Buying everything on their list right away at your local drug store. You’ll pay an arm and two legs for binders they may never use. Offices often have boxes full of three-ring binders they’re all too happy to unload. Ditto your local Value Village.
TIP: Buy online for better choice and price. Make sure to start your hunt well in advance to allow all your purchases to arrive in time. For example, why get a dull plastic lunch box when a little research can find you an eco-friendly, multi-layered bento box?
TIP: Customize your buys for your kid. While some kids work best recording notes on a small laptop, others find pen and paper still the best route to retention. Tailor your child’s back to school gear accordingly. Junior may need an Acer while Juniorette may need an abacus and slate!
SKIP: It’s probably not worth a trip south of the border all on its own, once you factor in gas and incidentals, but if you happen to find yourself stateside before school starts, the savings can be dramatic. Plan accordingly.
TIP: If your child is clamoring for all sorts of fancy new stuff (the average back to school spend is $677 according to VISA), tone down the consumerist impulse by encouraging him to help kids who don’t have the basic back to school gear. Ask him to select a few items for the school supply drives (at Staples, Value Village, anywhere else in your town), to help him realize that a new tablet isn’t a necessary part of the school supply package.