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Posted: July 28, 2011

10 ways to save for back to school and beyond

Finding ways to save on back to school shopping is more important than ever.  The need to save doesn’t end there, though.  The school year calls for many supplies, activities and clothes for those ever-growing kids (who can keep up!?).  As such, I’ve collected some creative ways for you to save now and continue to pinch pennies throughout the entire school year.

  • 1. Set a Budget: While this may seem like a no-brainer, I challenge you to stick to it.  Whether it’s clothes, supplies, etc., decide how much you can afford and (here’s the key) take out that amount in CASH ONLY.  Leave the checkbook, credit card and debit card at home!  When you’re forced to use cash, you’re forced to make wise choices about your spending and look a little harder to find the better deal.
  • 2. The 3 R’s: You reduce, reuse and recycle when it comes to the environment, why not apply this to all aspects of your lifestyle?  Reduce over-consumption of snack foods and cereals by dividing them into pre-measured zip lock bags.  Reuse sports items like cleats and tennis shoes that are still in good condition, despite pressure from kids for the latest styles.  Recycle old clothing at consignment stores, which in turn, give you cash to spend on new (or put back in your pocket!)
  • 3. Online Auctions: Make some money for new equipment your student needs by selling older models on auction sites like Craigslist, and These sites work in reverse, too, as you can find used models of what you may need.  Check  for auctions happening now!
  • 4. Quality, Not Quantity: Staple clothing items such as jeans, shoes and coats are great investments as they can be worn again and again and withstand several wears.  Save cash on more expendable items such as t-shirts and jewelry.  Many outfit combinations can come from layering tees, vests, hoodies and leggings with the same pair of jeans.  Two pairs of great, quality jeans and a plethora of fun, graphic t-shirts and a few hoodies can get any boy through several school months.  Have fun with girls by experimenting with accessories and make it a game of playing stylist and creating as many looks as possible with few pieces.
  • 5. Swap Shop: You have growing kids and guess what?  So do your friends and neighbors.  Play host to a neighborhood swap party and take advantage of hand-me-down items from other, older kids if yours don’t have the “pleasure” of older siblings.  This isn’t just for kids, either.  Have all the moms bring their unwanted clothing and accessories, too – everyone will go home with bagfuls of “new” items and clear their old!
  • 6. Cheap Thrills: Dust off those old board games and make a night of it!  Give yourself a break from cooking dinner and throw in a frozen pizza and a free DVD from the library.  Organize a potluck dinner amongst friends and rotate host homes once a week.  Go biking, rollerblading, whatever…chances are you’ll save money and gain a lot more precious time with family friends and incorporate some much-needed activity.
  • 7. No-Spend Weekend: Take a weekend and spend as normal, but save receipts for everything.  Total up how much you spent.  Next, go an entire weekend without spending anything.  You’ll be surprised at how much you can save in just a weekend!  Make coffee instead of running to Starbucks and force yourself to make use of what you already have on hand in the pantry for dinner.  It’s possible that in just a few weekends it’s likely you can have a pretty good head start on a family vacation!
  • 8. Get Tech Savvy: If you haven’t already, take the plunge and sign up for Facebook and Twitter.  Does your daughter need new ballet shoes?  There’s probably a parent in your circle who has a daughter who’s outgrown hers and would be willing to give them or sell them to you on the cheap.  Looking for a deal on a computer?  Someone else may have just seen a sale that could save you hundreds of dollars!
  • 9. Out of Season Shopping: Planning ahead and shopping for Christmas in July can make a big difference in holiday and gift spending.  Check end aisles in department stores for clearance candles, photo albums, etc. that make great gifts for anyone.  Save money AND holiday stress by wrapping presents ahead of time, as well.  You don’t have to wait on the holiday wrapping paper to come out – think green, red & metallic.
  • 10. Tricks of the Trade: Connect with your community group and figure out who is good at what.  For instance, you may be a fantastic baker and your friend may be really good at sewing.  You can make cupcakes for her child’s birthday party and in exchange, she can tailor those $5 jeans you bought at a thrift store and make them look like a million bucks!  Anything goes…babysitting, cleaning, hairstyling, the list goes on!

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