Many parents are starting to plan their shopping trips in preparation for their children’s return to school this coming fall. As they start to write their lists of items their children will need they may become concerned about the costs. Some items are really expensive, such as computers and graphing calculators. If the student is preparing to attend college, parents may feel overwhelmed with the costs of books, too. The good news is there are real and attainable strategies to help reduce these costs, if a parent and their children are willing to take a savvy and inexpensive route with various items needed for success in school.
Books are a necessary item, of course. College students need to own the books rather than have them loaned as they do in elementary through high school levels. Although, it is recently true that even elementary through high school books must be purchased as school districts continue to suffer budget cuts. There are ways to reduce this cost:
Books can be rented from various outlets, including school bookstores and online book suppliers. Buy Used: Most colleges do buy books back from students at the end of the semester so that students in the next semester can buy them at a reduced price (sometimes as much as 70 percent less).
Start a book sharing club:
If your student is unable to buy or rent a book due to financial hardship or a lack of local outlets to purchase the books, they can share books with other students. This may be challenging, but another way of looking at it is that the students are able to share their knowledge or understanding of the assignments through study groups and shared notes. The community affect can also help bring kids together who might not have otherwise met.
Buying clothes is often the hardest things for parents to deal with in today’s economy. Although many teenagers and young adults want the latest fashions that may challenge even the best bank accounts, there are ways to acquire high fashion with less money:
Shop in a reused/retro clothing store:
These stores offer good, clean, used clothing that is still fashionable. The Retro stores sale clean, gently-used clothing from other eras that your child may want to try. You can encourage your child to be unique in their style, rather than dressing like all the other look-alikes on campus. Used-clothing stores often sell clothing that still looks good at really, really low prices. It is not unheard of to find t-shirts for .69 cents, or jeans for a dollar. Take advantage of every sale you see if your child is really set on certain styles that cannot be found at used/retro clothing stores. Be willing to shop for what they want, but also teach them to be dollar savvy. You can do this by going online and doing price comparisons between various stores they are more inclined to shop at. Teach your child to understand the value of the dollar.
Start a clothing-exchange club:
This strategy has become popular with young adults who are living on a tight budget. They gather the clothing the no longer wear, then go to club meetings to exchange what they have for fashions other people bring with them to the meeting. This is a fun way to stay up on fashion without the pain to the checking accounts.
For paper, pens, crayons, colored pencils and even notebooks you can shop in Dollar stores. It is a blast to go there and walk out with about 20 items on your child’s list and know they are ready for the first day of school. For backpacks you can go to discount stores (even dollar stores), retro stores, and even garage sales. You can actually find used book bags with little or no damage. Some young adults and older teens actually prefer the scuff look of a used bag. For technical equipment like computers and graphing calculators you can go to used/refurbishing shops. Often times a computer that has been repaired does not get picked up by the original owner (perhaps they decided to buy a new one themselves), so the repair shop will sell the refurbished computer at very low prices that work to your advantage. Calculators, including graphing and scientific ones are really expensive when they are bought brand new, but they can be bought at used bookstores at a discount of 30-70 percent off.
Preparing to send your kids back to school should not break the bank. Plan your shopping trips and use the trips to teach your children that they can have what they need for school inexpensively. They will thank you for teaching them a valuable lesson.