Sunday, July 28, 2019

10 Money-Savvy Back to School Tips

It's weird to be writing about back to school stuff when it is still July but there are many places, my city included, where school starts super early, like by mid-August!  So while that seems extremely early to me, I guess it is never too early to save money on back-to-school stuff for the kids...

  1. Hit up a back-to-school fair or two.  There have been a few city-wide back-to-school fairs in our area with several more planned for the next couple of weeks.  These are great places to get school info, maybe get your kid a free haircut and free school supplies, and even get required vaccinations during some of these events.
  2. Start shopping for school supplies now.  I've already picked up some school supplies like notebooks and crayons for really cheap (notebooks were only 10 cents!).  If you start now and shop loss leaders each week, you can get quite a few necessary school supplies for your kids at dirt cheap prices.  Side note, buy double the school supplies then hide half--this way you will have brand new school supplies to give your kids when they go back to school after Christmas break.
  3. Do all of the paperwork for school ASAP.  Things like registering your kids for school, finding out what bus they will ride, signing them up for before and after school care, etc. is much better to do way ahead of time rather than the day before school starts.
  4. Think about lunch now.  Now is the time to sign your kids up for free or reduced school lunches or if you plan to make their lunch everyday, gather the supplies and start practicing.  Things like thermoses and insulated lunch bags can often be found on sale now (especially at Walmart and Ross).  Also practice making them lunches like you intend to send with them to school now; this is a great way to determine what they like and don't like.
  5. Shop the Goodwill!  You can buy the bulk of your kid's back-to-school clothes at the Goodwill and other thrift stores which will allow you to save money that you can use on things you will want to buy new (socks, underwear, shoes, etc...note these items can be found cheap at Ross/Marshalls/TJMaxx as well as at Walmart and online at Amazon, 6pm, etc.).
  6. There are several ways you can get required vaccinations for your kids.  If these are covered by your health plan, make an appointment with your doctor now (you can also do this for school sports physicals).  Be sure to check with your school or public health district to see where and when you can get free or reduced-cost back-to-school vaccinations for your kids if you don't have medical insurance.  Note that if you can't afford medical insurance for your kids, check the requirements for state-sponsored children's health insurance plans; income requirements can change from year to year and while you might not have qualified last year, you may qualify this year.
  7. Put off some school expenditures.  If you have a kid going to college, let them take the basics and then figure out what to buy after they get to school (gift cards to Walmart and Target are great for this purpose).  They may not need a mini fridge if their dorm-mate has one, things that were cool in high school may not make the cut in their new school environment, etc.
  8. Consider last year's technology.  I'm sure most kids would like an iPhone 10X, a new iPad Pro, and an Intel i9 gaming laptop but an iPhone 8 will work just fine, a last-generation iPad will take care of their mobile tech needs, and an i5 or i7 laptop will work for everything from homework to gaming.
  9. Google for discount options.  If your college kid has a book list a mile long, Google for alternatives to buying books at full price from the school's book store (used books, sharing books, and downloading PDFs of the books may be some options).  Ditto for school uniforms and sports equipment (maybe set up a swap with other parents to hand down uniforms or equipment that no longer fit their children through the school's Facebook page).
  10. Attend any back-to-school events that are hosted by your kid's school.  These events are a great way to meet your kid's teachers, meet other parents, get a tour of the school, ask questions, and get info on everything from school supply lists to bus schedules to online school portal access, etc.

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