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Back to School Savings

Has buying all those new school supplies put a cramp in your wallet? With fuel and food costs rising and the economy slumping, it's a good idea to figure out how to cut back on back-to-school purchases this year.

School Bus

Check out these 10 tips for back to school saving, from this article via MSN Money:

1) Begin by shopping at home. Avoid buying everything new. Take a look around the house and see what your family already owns. I bet you have more extra pens, pencils, folders and rulers than you think.
2) Start searching for bargains early! Now is a great time to keep an eye out for clearance sales in your area. Keep an eye out for coupons and make a special box to store them in. When you find a good deal, stock up for the entire year. Also, be aware that most of the great sales come in late September after school has already started, so we advise you wait to shop.
3) Hit the dollar store! You’d be surprised at the large selections of paper, markers, and other school supplies you’re likely to find. Dollar stores are great places to find everyday craft items!  (Grocery Outlet also stocks basic school supplies like paper, pens, notebooks, binders, and crayons, all at great prices.)
4) Scour garage sales, thrift stores, & consignment shops. This might require some get out and go motivation, but the deals are better than ever. Why not give it a try? (This is great for clothes, backpacks and sports equipment.)
5) Remember eBay & Craigslist. Great deals and steals are usually found on these websites. Savings could be substantial on back-to-school clothes, and this internet process is always less time consuming than bargain hunting at thrift stores or yard sales.
6) Set ground rules for clothes shopping. Make sure to buy clothes that will give your children room to grow. Pick up extra pairs of shoes in larger sizes when you find a great sale. Classic styles and solid colors are always good buys because they are easy to mix & match and less likely to look dated over time.
7) Buy the right backpack. Kids shouldn’t carry more than 20 percent of their own weight on their backs. If you know that your child is likely to stuff his or her backpack, opt for a smaller one.
8) Don’t overspend on technology. In today’s world, homework can be almost impossible to do these days without a computer and access to the Internet. If you are looking to buy a computer this summer, be sure to look for deals. Again, check out eBay and Craigslist and remember that refurbished computers are another option.
9) Track down the right calculator. If your child needs that fancy calculator for Trigonometry, bite the bullet and invest in a good one because it will last for years to come!
10) Teach important money lessons. Back-to-school season allows you as a parent to have discussions with your children about money, budgeting, and needs vs. wants. You can negotiate back-to-school budgets with your kids and allow them to manage those budgets. If they want anything above and beyond the dollar amount that you’ve agreed on, let them use their allowance money to pay for it by themselves.

Learning doesn't always have to be expensive.  You can prepare your kids for school while staying on your budget, and teach them the value of a dollar while you're at it.  Good luck!

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