For students in the Jefferson City and Columbia area, it’s almost time to head back to school. For parents, that means it’s also time to start setting a budget for the school year (and let’s be honest, maybe a little rejoicing?). There are many different ways families can save money year-round, rather than making big purchases at the start of the school year. All it takes is some preparation and planning ahead. Interested? Read on.
Demand and Supplies
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), families can expect to spend $97.74 per child on school supplies this year. Help yourself cut costs. Instead of buying all your school supplies the week before classes begin, consider creating a by-the-semester plan for purchases. Granted, there are some things you need upfront, especially when it comes to teacher-created supply lists. For these items, start shopping through your own drawers before you head to the dollar or general store.
For the rest, try to hold off for a few weeks. You can score some great after-season deals on things like backpacks or clothes, or even electronics such as scientific calculators or tablets. For example, the best time to buy denim is in October, not August (when it’s probably too warm to comfortably wear jeans anyway).
Many retailers will drastically reduce the pricing on these items as they make room for holiday gear, which seems to be set up earlier every year. Keep an eye on the clearance racks in September and October and you’ll save.
Brown Bag Savings
Lunchtime is another opportunity to rein in spending. If time is an issue (and time is, after all, money), bulk buys may be the way to go. Big-box stores can be a lifesaver for big families. But, if you find yourself consistently throwing out lunchmeat or produce that’s past its prime, it’s probably not worth the trip. Another avenue to consider is online subscribe-and-save deals, now available through retailers such as Target or Amazon. If there are snacks that you frequently pack in lunch sacks, this can be a good way to save money. Price it out and compare.
Another time- and cash-saving method is turning Sunday afternoon into “lunch prep time” for the week ahead. You can make and organize lunches for everyone in a matter of a few hours. Meal prepping is also an easy way to incorporate healthier eating habits, so it’s a win-win solution for busy families. Look for “bento box” style lunch bags, especially if you have a picky eater in your household.
By the Budget
Lastly, and most importantly, no matter how and when you pick up school supplies, you should set a budget (and stick to it!) before you hit the stores. You can get a good feel for costs by keeping an eye on newspaper ads and emails for the best deals. Decide how much you’ll spend per child or per semester and stay the course.
Where are you favorite places to get back-to-school deals in the area? Let us know in the comments!