It's a ritual. Back-to-school shopping is an annual event that costs us millions of dollars each year. But is it really necessary? Do we really need to buy so much stuff? Here are three reasons to cut or delay back-to-school spending:
1) Overstuffed backpacks. Over the years, I have purchased rulers, glue sticks, scientific calculators, compasses, notebooks and markers that my kids have barely used. In some cases, the items are not touched during the school year. That's because not every item on the back-to-school shopping list is really used or needed. My new strategy: Wait until the item is really needed for classroom assignments. Talk to other parents and teachers about what supplies are essential. I've actually had some parents warn me that one or another teacher will ask for supplies that are never really used. Or we've purchased items that kids could have easily shared across the aisles.
2) Shop at home. In May or June, kids come home with school supplies that may still be in good shape. Take inventory before you go out and buy a new box of markers, crayons or notebooks. You may have ample supplies in your own cupboard.
3) Wait for the fall clearance sales. Why buy a full wardrobe of fall clothing in August or September? Wait until the shopping rush is over and purchase fall clothing at a discount. Send the kids back to school in light-weight (summer) clothing that is super cheap now. If your kids wear uniforms, look for used or hand-me down uniforms. Some schools have a stock of gently used uniforms that are free or super cheap.