Debt Reduction, Good Reading

All about back-to-school savings

I remember what a thing it was to get ready to go back to school when I was a kid. The town that I grew up in is a predominantly rural area and although we had a couple stores that we could get some really basic supplies at, when it was time for back-to-school shopping – we got to go to the big city (which was LaCrosse, Wisconsin) and buy our wares. Pencils (until junior high when I switched allegiance to clear barrel Bic pens with blue ink), notebooks, glue, rulers … when we got fancy, my generation bought things like Trapper Keepers and mechanical pencils. Textbook covers? We repurposed brown paper shopping bags for that task!

Yesterday when I was walking through Target, I realized how fancy things could get. And there’s a part of me that drools when I see that I could own a Jonas Brothers pencil case (well, not really – my allegience is more towards “Twilight.”), but there’s another part of me that wants to cry when I can see how expensive school supplies could get for my children.

So since I don’t have kids, I turn to my trusty interwebs to help me (and you) navigate what could potentially be a spendy problem. And since it’s that time of year, every news source seems chock full of “back-to-school” savings articles:

This one is from CNN and the main focus of it is back-to-school clothing. One of the highlights of this article that nearly made me nose my coffee was that the National Retail Foundation speculates that parents will spend an average of $606 per child this year for back-to-school items. But they are also factoring in all items – clothing, backpacks and school supplies. There are a few good tips in here – be savvy about when you shop for back-to-school clothing … look for sales and repurpose last year’s clothes and only buy a few items to bolster what you already have. Also, see if your kiddo is willing to wait a couple weeks after the start of the school year when you can pick up notebooks for a dime a piece and other items are similarly discounted.

Now this article, from my beloved New York Times, nearly floored me. In this article, the families with returning school children had a laundry list of supplies to bring back to school – including some basic janitorial supplies! (Uff da.) The crux of this article is that with trimmed budgets, a lot of schools are relying on parents to pitch in stuff like disinfectant wipes, garbage bags, hand soap, etc. While this is stunning, there’s a silver lining to this particular cloud … retailers know that schools are asking for these sorts of things and are giving some great discounts on cleaning supplies right now.

This article is from the Detroit Free Press … no, that’s not a newspaper that I read on a regular basis, but I think I was reading some piece of celebrity gossip or something inane like that when I saw this article and liked the very basic, hands on advice that it gave … set a budget, stick to it – if your kids want something extra, it’s up to them to chip in sort of thing …

I’m all about nostalgia in today’s comment section … beyond my usual “what do you do to save on school supplies” question, I want to know … what was your favorite back-to-school supply that you had to purchase? Any particular bookbags stand out (so says that woman that still has her first backpack from kindergarten which features the Pink Panther.)? Did you have a snazzy Trapper Keeper?

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