The last thing you probably want to do is think about shopping for school supplies, but I've found that one of the best ways to save money on them is to shop early. It's surprising how expensive the supplies can get, especially if you're shopping for more than one child. Just because you have to buy these items doesn't mean you have to spend all of your money in the process. Adhering to a few tips can help you get the supplies your kids need without emptying out your wallet.
Search your home
You may already have a ton of supplies around your home that you can use for the upcoming school year. So you don't have to search for them all yourself, make it a game for your kids. Ask them to go on a search for as many supplies as they can find in a certain amount of time, then have a prize for each child at the end.
Head to the dollar store
Dollar stores have some good quality items for those on a budget. However, I've been to several dollar stores close to the start of school season and the shelves were almost stripped of everything from pencils to folders. Don't wait until last minute and you can have your pick of supplies your child wants and needs.
There are a variety of ways to rack up points while you're shopping throughout the year so by the time you're ready to do school shopping, you can eliminate a chunk of the cost. You likely already know about credit card rewards, but some others to consider are MyPoints or Swagbucks in which you shop, search or play games in order to rack up points for rewards.
Search bargain baskets
Many stores have bargain baskets where you can get marked-down items for a fraction of what they usually cost. It may be due to excess inventory or because there's a slight problem with the packaging, but ask stores you shop at if they offer these discounted items. I've seen some stores place them in large containers near the front of the store while others place them in one shopping cart or on a specific set of shelves. You may have to search for them, but they're worth checking out.
Make a list of what your kids need
One of the worst things you can do is go into the store without having a list in your hand of what you need. It's a recipe for overspending. Make a list of what supplies you have to buy and nothing extra. You don't have to purchase anything other than the necessities right away. If you have extra money in the future and you so desire, you can always pick up extra items in the future.
Make a budget and stick to it
Trying to save money on school supplies isn't going to mean anything if you don't make a budget and stick to it, which may mean leaving the kids at home so they don't throw things in the basket or keep asking for extras. While some may pick the lowest possible dollar amount to stick to, your best bet is to go for something realistic instead. If you make it too low for the sake of saving money, there's a good chance you'll go over. Instead, take a look at your list and make a low, but realistic budget about how much you can afford to spend.
With so many ways to save money on school supplies, you could spend a fraction of what you have in previous years. They may be necessary, but that doesn't mean you have to empty out your wallet just to get them. A little research, price comparison and planning can go a long way.
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