Ways to Save Money: Part 1
With just about two weeks left to enjoy those summer days, the dreaded back to school time is approaching fast! Are you ready? It’s time to buy school supplies, lunch boxes, and school clothes. It’s time to get back into the routine of going to bed early and waking up early. There is so much to do! As a parent of school age kids, it’s almost overwhelming! To make it easier, we have come up with a few tips and ideas to make it a smooth transition for parents and kids. In this two-part series, let’s take a look at some money saving tips first.
It seems each year the school supply list gets longer and more expensive. Times are changing, budgets are cut, and prices are raised. If you have more than one kid to buy for then that makes it even more expensive. Luckily, some area churches and organizations like United Way try to help families out during this time. Today, at Midland Assembly of God from 10-1 p.m., free school supplies will be given out as well. However, if you are shopping and looking for the cheapest places for those supplies, here are THREE tips to keep in mind while shopping:
1. Eventhough everything is a dollar at the Dollar Tree, some items are cheaper at Wal-Mart! If you are like me, one trip in the Dollar Tree can end up costing over twenty dollars when you went in for a $1 item. It’s because we love the Dollar Tree. Don’t get me wrong there are some items I do buy there and are totally worth that dollar. However, be careful on the school supplies. For example, let’s look at crayons. One package of crayons at the Dollar Tree cost $1 and at Wal-Mart one package of crayons costs 33 Cents! So, shop around. Also, don’t forget the Dollar General offers online digital coupons on select school supplies, and if you shop on Saturday, spend $25 then you get $5 off with a coupon. Don’t have the coupon? Don’t worry! Ask the cashiers. They usually always have extra coupons at the register that they will let you have for this discount. One other thing to think about is ordering online. If you hate going down each aisle and trying to mess with the crowds, order online. Some stores offer discounts, coupons, and even free pickup when ordering online, like Dollar General, Wal-Mart, and Office Depot. I did some price checking online for you! Below is a chart of price comparison to make your school supply shopping easier. Prices are subject to change, and some are offered for a limited time or until supplies last. Be sure and check the sale ads before heading to the store.
2. If your kids insist on packing their lunch, I have money saving tips for you too! First, be careful about buying individually wrapped items. Although I will admit it saves a ton of time while packing a lunch, it doesn’t save in your pocketbook. If you want to save money on packing lunches, buy regular size bags of chips and place individual serving sizes in baggies instead. It is the same concept with individual packages of carrots or apples. When you buy these items prepackaged for individuals, you pay the extra for them doing the work for you. However, if you do the work, you will save money! If you are like me and always busy, plan ahead to help yourself! Last school year, I purchased a small 3 basket cart. I labeled each basket as the following: chips, desserts, snacks. On Saturdays or Sundays, whichever day I had some free time, I sat and made up snacks, bags of chips, and desserts, and I placed a week supply of each of the items in each basket. This saved me time and money! That way all I had to do (or you can make your child do it) was select one from each basket and just make a sandwich! It was so much easier for me since I pack 6 lunches every night!
3. Let’s talk about school clothes! This is stressful for a parent. Every kid wants to look in style, but not everyone has the means for this, and I totally understand! We have four kids, so I really do get it! Some of the tips I can give you is shop in thrift stores! Sometimes, I have found brand new pairs of shoes with the tags still on them for $3 dollars! Don’t forget to look at yard sales, too. I’ve sold items at a yard sale that still had tags on them because my kids grew to fast to wear the items. So, it’s worth stopping and looking. Also, look on Facebook Yard Sale Group Sites. Parents always start selling their items to clean out the closet for the next year. However, be careful. Sometimes on this, you will pay more! Right now, at the Greenwood Wal-Mart, they have tons of kid’s clothes marked down for $2, $3, and $5 each! Let me add this too, Wal-Mart has really stepped up their game in their clothing style! I remember as a kid dreading when my mom shopped at Wal-Mart for my school clothes, but she was a single mom. It was all we could afford, and she was doing the best she could do with what money she had. However, now Wal-Mart has some great clothes for low prices. Also, check the prices and sales at JC Penny’s and Children’s Place in Central Mall. I am not a big fan of the mall. I always thought you pay way too much for clothing there, but my mother in-law is an avid shopper there, and she has convinced me that some stores are worth the trip! So, take time to compare the sales! It’s worth your dollar savings!
In closing, don’t forget that tax free weekend is August 3rd and 4th. So, if you can wait until next weekend, that will save you money too! Also, if you don’t have the means to buy school supplies for your child, reach out to your local church or school. They will help you get in touch with someone to assist you in this area. If you are unable to buy new school clothes for your kid, it’s ok! Sometimes, the money is just not there. Check with your local clothes closets. Mansfield First Baptist has a clothes closet, and they would love to help your child find some clothes for school.
Last, if you have no school age kids, help someone out! We have been blessed with wonderful grandparents on both sides of the family that have always bought clothes and supplies for our kids. If you have a friend that you know needs help, pick up a school supply list at Wal-Mart, and buy some of the items. You have no idea how you could bless them with this small gesture. Buy some clothes for their kids! It will mean so much to those kids! Stay tuned for part 2 on ways to help students get back into the routine of school! And most of all…