6 Ways to Save Big on Back to School Supplies



back to school supplies

Paper, pencils, backpacks, calculators, highlighters, crayons, hand sanitizer… the list goes on and on, and it can add up quick! Don’t just make a trip to your local Walmart and stock up on everything you see. Use these top seven ways to save big on back to school supplies and get all the great gear your kids need for less! How you spend the money you save is up to you. (Shopping spree for mom, anyone??)

1. Figure out What You Need

Before you hit the stores, take a minute to make a list of the supplies you’ll actually need. Many schools publish back to school supply lists. Get one for your school and cross off all the items you have lying around the house already. (For example, you may have glue sticks, hand sanitizer or last year’s backpack on hand already). Once you’ve made your list–stick to it. This way, you won’t waste your money on things you don’t need, and you won’t forget anything, causing you to pay more for it later.

2. Take Advantage of Doorbuster Deals

Back to school time is the perfect time to score some amazing deals on school supplies. All the major stores have sales where they drastically mark down select items. Many stores even sell specific items at a loss just to get you into the store. Instead of getting all of your supplies at once (when some will be cheap and others will be expensive), take a few weeks and get a couple doorbusters each week. Then you can get everything–or at least almost everything–you need at rock bottom prices.

3. Stock Up on Bargain Prices

If you find a truly amazing deal, don’t be afraid to stock up, especially if it is on something that you know your kids will need lots of or that they will need again next year. While you don’t want to be greedy and clear the shelves, don’t be afraid to buy more than you need. For example, one year I saw pencils for 1 cent a box! Now I’m kicking myself that I didn’t buy plenty.

4. Shop During Your State’s Sales Tax Holiday

While sales tax is a small percentage of your purchase, it can really add up when you are buying tons of back to school supplies. Many states offer sales tax holidays, when you can get school supplies without paying tax. If your state does this, be sure to shop during those dates to save even more. Click here for a list of states that offer sales tax holidays.

5. Know When to Buy Cheap and When to Buy Quality

Buying generic can save you a bundle, but sometimes name brand is the way to go. It all depends on what you are purchasing and how long you need it to last. Feel free to go cheap on: crayons, paper, pencil sharpeners, basic calculators, colored pencils, book covers and erasers. Plan to spend more on: backpacks, graphic calculators, insulated lunchboxes and pencils (Some of the cheaper brands won’t sharpen in old fashioned pencil sharpeners. They just grind into stubs).

6. Avoid Characters

Your child may absolutely adore that cute character backpack or lunch box now, but for how long? It is not uncommon for kids to change interest as soon as only a month or two into the school year. Stick to basic, character-free designs so they can be used year after year.

School supplies may be a necessary expense, but that doesn’t mean that you should spend more for them than you have to. Use these six tips for saving big on school supplies and get the supplies you need for less. Any other tips use and love? Share them in the comments below! I’d love to hear them!

Top 10 Things to Buy for Back-to-School



Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I was compensated for publishing this post on behalf of DollarTree.com.

back to school purchases No, summer’s not over yet, but it’s not too early to start planning your back-to-school budget. Your child’s school probably has the official school supplies list available, so you can make sure that you have the right kind for each class. Most of the items should be available for less at the discount store. Here’s a look at the top 10 things you’ll need to pick up before your kids go back to school.

1. Binders and Folders – Every class requires something to keep loose papers organized. Binders and folders keep them from getting torn and lost in the daily trek to and from class. Your child can also put notebooks, extra paper, a pencil pouch and monthly planners inside their binders so they don’t get lost.

2. Desktop Accessories – From binder clips and pen cups to pencil cases and battery-operated fans, it’s time to stock up for your child’s desk at home and at school. Don’t forget tape, a stapler, pencil sharpeners, erasers and a calendar.

3. Crayons and Markers – Check on the school supplies list to find out what types of crayons and markers are needed. They’ll probably specify crayons by color, or markers by broad tips, felt markers, highlighters or dry erase.

4. Pens and Pencils – Mechanical pens and pencils, lead and standard pencils are always high on the list of required items. Make sure that you have at least some regular #2 pencils, since they’re the standard used for computer-graded tests. Blue, black and red ink pens are common for older kids. Unless your child is perfect, you’ll need ink erasers and correction tape or fluid are needed to fix small mistakes.

5. Tape and Glue – Glue sticks are the most popular options for in-school projects, but glue bottles and dots are also available. Transparent tape comes in clear and translucent styles. Make sure there’s a dispenser in the package, unless you have one at home.

6. Scissors – Children’s scissors are usually five inches long, and they have either pointed or blunt tips. Older kids can use longer scissors.

7. Paper and Notebooks – Depending on your child’s age, you may need wide rule or college rule spiral or loose-leaf paper. Graph paper is an important item for math and geometry in higher grades.

8. Electronics – Once your child reaches sixth grade, items like scientific calculators start popping up on the list. You might also want to pick up some earphones, chargers and extra batteries while you’re shopping – even if they’re not mentioned.

9. Digital Covers and Cases – Keep your child’s phone, digital devices and electronics in good shape with covers and cases. As much as you hate to think about it, they’re going to get dropped and hit. Look for soft plastic phone bumpers and scratch-resistant sleeves. They typically come in an assortment of colors.

10. Hygiene and Sanitizers – Hand sanitizers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Washing their hands is always important, but keeping a bottle of sanitizer or some wipes in their desk, locker or backpack can prevent your kids from picking up germs and getting sick as often. Some schools also request that kids bring in a box of tissues, a roll of paper towels or a bottle of liquid soap for all students to use in the classroom.

Nikki is an independent writer for DollarTree.com. Dollar Tree offers great deals on office supplies, party supplies and more.

7 Ways to Save on Back to School Clothes



back to school clothes While summer may still be in full swing, the new school year is going to be here before we know it. As the mother of a little girl who is going to be starting kindergarten for the first time this year, this is a huge deal in our house! We’re all really excited, but we’re all a little nervous too.

One thing I’m not too nervous about, however, is buying new back to school clothes. Sure she’s going to need a ton of them (How girls go through clothes so fast–I’ll never know!), but that’s okay. I won’t be paying full price for them, and you don’t have to either. Just use these seven ways to save on back to school clothes. I plan to save a bundle, and you can too.

1. Shop the Sales

One of the easiest ways to save big on your kids’ school clothes is ridiculously simple: shop the sales and clearance racks! You can often get the exact same brand new name brand clothing for a fraction of the cost just by waiting a couple of weeks until it goes on sale. Find out when your favorite store marks everything down, and go in ready to stock up and save big!

2. Shop Secondhand

If you don’t mind used clothes, there are tons of places you can find them. Search thrift stores, consignment shops and secondhand kids’ clothing stores. Hit up the garage sales and search on Craigslist and Ebay. How many times have your kids grown out of clothes before they’ve had a chance to wear them more than a couple of times? This happens to other moms too, and you can use it to your advantage.

3. Trade with Friends

If you really want to save big and you have friends with kids who are slightly older than yours, see if you can trade or get free hand-me-downs. I’ve gotten tons of clothes from friends who were willing to let me borrow as well as from friends who just wanted someone to take the clothes off of their hands for free!

4. Buy All Throughout the Year

If you have adequate storage space and are good at planning ahead, buying all throughout the year is a fantastic way to save big on kids’ clothes. For example, if I see a shirt on clearance that is two sizes too big for my daughter but a great deal, I’ll go ahead and grab it now. Then, when the time comes, I don’t have to buy clothes at full price–she already has a whole box full of clothes I’ve picked up for cheap! This does require excellent organizational skills, but it can be done. I monitor the deals at Zulily often to score some great clothes for back to school!

5. Go for Quality

When you see the price tag on a new pair of jeans, it can be really tempting to just purchase the cheapest pair you can find, but resist the temptation! Often times you get what you pay for, and it ends up being much cheaper and easier to buy quality pieces in the first place.

6. Sign Up for Store Deals

If there is a store you shop frequently, make sure you sign up for their sale alerts, newsletter or coupons–whatever they offer. Some stores send out free $10 coupons or $10 off of a $25 purchase coupons to their mailing list subscribers. Get a coupon like this, and you can get clothes for F.R.E.E!

7. Save Your Receipt

How frustrating is it to buy clothes, only to have them go on sale immediately after? Fight back by saving your receipt. Then, if something goes on sale two weeks later, you can just take the receipt back and get the difference.

Honestly, if you are clever and resourceful enough, you really don’t have to pay more for kids’ clothes than you want to. These seven tips will get you off to a great start.

What other tips do you have?

5 Ways a Stay-at-Home Mom Can Save Big



five ways

In this uncertain economy, many stay-at-home moms are saving big by adopting smarter shopping habits, stricter budgets, and eliminating unnecessary luxury items. Like these moms, you can make some small changes in your life in order to save more money. As financial expert, Suze Orman, suggests, “By taking care of yourself financially, you will truly be able to take care of those you love.” You can be a money-saving mama, more financially in control, and with a bigger budget for the things that matter most.

Coupons

You don’t have to become one of those coupon-clipping moms from the television, but you shouldn’t avoid clipping altogether. Some women treat coupons like they’re a full-time job. Others take one afternoon a week to clip the coupons they’re most likely to use.

Coupons are for more than groceries. You can find coupons for everything from brand name electronics to clothing. You may find a valuable drugstore promo code or travel savings. Check in your weekly newspaper and online for coupons. Sign up for email alerts from your favorite brands and you may find money-saving coupons are randomly emailed to you.

Kids Eat Free

Many websites offer free meals for kids, when the adults in a family order from the regular menu. Instead of paying full price for everyone, try to only eat at those restaurants that offer free meals for children.

Budget

A strict budget is essential when you’re living on a single income. Create weekly and monthly budgets, with areas for projected and actual spending. This shows you where you’ve saved and how much. If there’s a surplus of money, put it into your savings account for a future vacation or larger home payment.

You can visually see where funds are being allocated and how much spending money you have for the week. You may find that you’re overspending on unnecessary expenses and not enough on your mortgage and car loans. For instance, if your husband travels frequently and is consistently overspending when parking at Newark, it may be a good idea to invest in a monthly parking pass.

Prepare Meals at Home

Student lunches typically cost around $3, for an average monthly spending of $60. This $60 could help pay a bill or add to savings, so why not pack your children’s lunch? If you’re already couponing for inexpensive groceries, than you have the low-cost items on hand to prepare meals at home.

If your kids prefer what’s being served at school, try and find out if you can mimic those recipes. Another great way to get kids on board is to allow them to pick out a lunch pail with their favorite characters depicted on it. Your husband should be a little easier to sway. He likely finds your homemade leftovers more appealing that what they’re serving in the office cafeteria.

Trim the Fat

Easily the best way to add a couple hundred dollars to your monthly savings is getting rid of luxury items you don’t need. If you’re paying for a monthly cable television subscription, complete with subscription channels, you’re costing yourself upwards of $250 a month. You should consider downgrading or cancelling this service altogether.

It’s important to not overspend on your credit cards either. Avoid luxury items, by keeping credit cards tucked away for emergencies only. Spend only what you can afford and then save the rest of your money. This is one of the best ways to build a savings and save your family some extra dough. Who knows? If you follow these tips, you may just find yourself relaxing on a beach for a quality family vacation soon.

Disclosure: Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this post.

The Truth Behind 4 Money Myths



4 money myths

When it comes to money –making it, managing it, and spending it – everyone has an opinion and everyone is willing to give advice. But that advice isn’t always accurate. Some of it is based on old sayings that most of us think are true, but really aren’t.

In today’s entry, we take a look at four of those financial falsehoods, including whether money really can buy happiness and the truth about kids being “so expensive.”

“I’ll Be Happier If I Have More Money.”

It’s an age-old question: Can money buy happiness? The answer, in almost every case, is no. In fact, many “rich” people are just as stressed out and unhappy as Average Joes like you and I. The main reason is because that six-figure salary usually means they have a six-figure lifestyle with six-figure expenses. Which also means they’re just as stressed about paying the bills as you are. And sometimes they’re a lot more stressed because they’ve got a lot more to lose!

“You Get What You Pay For.”

We’ve all heard this one. The thinking is, the more you pay for something, the higher the quality will be and the longer it will last. That’s true in some instances – appliances and clothing (sometimes) to name a few – but not always. A $30 bottle of wine doesn’t necessarily taste better than a $10 bottle of wine. And will a $50,000 car last twice as long as a $25,000 car? Not really. In fact, the cheaper car might last longer!

“Kids Are So Expensive!”

This one is sort of true, but that’s really up to the person raising the kids (and paying for them). If you buy your kids every toy imaginable and send them to pricey schools, yes, kids will seem expensive. The trick is to avoid falling into the trap of spoiling them (hard to do sometimes, I know), and making wise decisions about what to spend money on and what not to.

“If I Deserve a Raise, My Boss Will Give Me A Raise.”

What most employees forget is that their boss’s first priority is improving your company’s bottom line and helping the company make money. Sometimes that means giving raises to deserving employees, but it usually means convincing hard-working employees to work even harder for the same pay as last year. In other words, your boss might give you a raise before you ask for it, but more often than not, you’ll have to ask for that raise yourself if you really want it.