Creative School Supply Shopping - Frugality At Its Finest

August 17, 2009 – 6:09 am

You’ve just about worn yourself out with all the preparation for Back-To-School time.  Your budget is set, you have your coupons ready, you have searched the internet for every possible deal you can find, and you have gassed up the car and are ready to hit the road.

But, and there’s always a but, there are a few places you may want to consider shopping before you venture out to your retail stores.

The first place to “shop” will save you time and a lot of money.  Consider your own clutter.  I know from my own experience that I have accumulated quite a collection of freebies from promoters like real estate agents, politicians, churches, non-profit groups, and assorted business owners.  Often, these groups use items printed with their names and logos to introduce themselves - items like pencils, pens, and even backpacks.  If you are like me, you save every last one of those items in a drawer somewhere in your house.  Now is the time to clean out that drawer.

Again, a penchant for squirreling away everything you can get your hands on may pay off.  If you have been piling up those folders and binders that you receive every time you get a new insurance proposal or policy, you can now reuse those items.  Your child may not want the logo of some company on their folders or three-ring binders, but a few stickers can solve that problem pretty fast.

Some old three-ring binders will come in handy for you too, Mom.  Use one for each child’s school announcements and other papers, like school calendars, class picture announcements, and the like.  Get yourself a three-hole punch and put every loose paper in there when your child brings them home from school.  Now you know where everything is.  Tape a monthly calendar on front and you have an organization masterpiece.

When it’s time to leave the house to shop for school supplies, consider more unusual places like drugstores, used book stores, and thrift shops before you head off to the big stores.

Many drug stores have a section of school supplies with prices that often rival the big retail stores.  Used book stores often have piles of cheap three-ring binders, folders, book covers, composition notebooks, and the like.  And, when people who do not have school age children clean out their junk drawers, they will very often toss those extra pencils, pens, and notebooks in with other items they are donating to thrift shops.  So be sure to make a stop at your local thrift shop or resale shop.

Last, but not least, check with your own child’s school.  Some folks will make a donation of school supplies to their favorite school, either by returning their own child’s unused supplies or by purchasing new supplies to help families who are on a tight budget.  Some communities hold “school supply drives” with the help of local radio or television stations.  If you are unable to afford the kind of school supplies that you’ll need to provide your children, these community events may be able to help.

When your budget is tight, you need to get creative when it comes time to provide needed items for your children.  Moms like you are some of the most creative people I know.  You’ve done it before, you can do it again… so keep the faith!

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