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School shopping for supplies and clothes on a budget

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Back to class

It's back to school time - and while that means the kids will have something to do during the day, it also is a time when households find their money being frittered away thanks to seemingly endless lists of -œmust-haves- for the new school year. Fortunately, some things can be cut from this list and those that can't, can often be budgeted down to a reasonable amount.

Back to class

A new fall wardrobe

Focus on one outfit as opposed to a bunch of wardrobe builders. Make picking out the outfit a special occasion instead of something that's rushed. If you've got a teen, shopping with mom isn't usually at the top of their list, so decide on a clothing budget, give them the cash and let them make their purchases – pending your ultimate approval of course. Don't forget to hit up designer discount houses like T.J. Maxx, Loehmanns, and the like. If you and your child are deciding on a budget – and how to spend it together, you'll likely come to appreciate places like these where their dollar goes a little further.

School "accessories"

Putting the money in your kids' hands is a great lesson that can be applied not only to clothes but also to the little things that crop up along the way during back-to-school time. If your child wants something different or fancier – i.e. more expensive – than what they already have or what you think is necessary, let them know that you paid for the basic version. Allow them come up with the difference. Or give them a back-to-school budget of their own, permitting them to decide how much they really want to spend whether it's a brand new pair of jeans and/or the fancy messenger bag.


Of course there are just some things that fall into the "have-to-have" category, whether it is items on the schools' required supply list, books for special classes or a replacement for that calculator that's been passed down. In these cases, do stick to the list the school sends. Don't allow items to be purchased that aren't on that list, or you'll open the floodgates. Take inventory from last year since many supplies are still perfectly acceptable to reuse and pass on.

Consider buying supplies online, as you may find better deals through venues that people are less likely to use. You may even be able to avoid shipping on certain sites like Amazon if you buy enough. Plus you're saving gas money and you're not fighting the back to school crowds.

Otherwise clip coupons or at least look at the ads. This way you'll have a good idea of how much things are at each store. Keep in mind that driving all around town for that best deal is neither time effective or cost effective in the long run. In that case, it might be better to do your comparison shopping online after all!

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