Back-to-School Shopping for Year-Round Savings
by PeggySue Wells
Back-to-school shopping is my favorite retail season. Just look at all that yummy paper, bright ink pens, handy glue sticks and notebooks in all sizes and shades.
When I was a kid and finally old enough to visit the grocery store aisles I liked best while my mom completed her shopping list, I didn’t go to the row of toys, the cereal avenue or even the candy corridor. My homing beacon was set for the stationary section.
Even in later years when my peers gravitated to glam make-up, clothing and perfumes, I still adored blank books, file folders, notecards and pens, eager to translate my thoughts to ink on paper. During the back-to-school season, shopping is positively pleasant as I browse the reams of spiral notebooks in primary colors priced at ten for a dollar, and those inviting blank composition books in their familiar white and black covers.
Creating a functional budget and sticking to it is good for our financial health. Concurrently, financial freedom expert, Dave Ramsey, notes that buying items on sale that we use often is good for the budget. With this in mind, I purchase those back-to-school supplies from the list the teacher and school send out, looking for color and convenience for our family. Next, I stock up on a few extra deeply discounted products for events and holidays throughout the year.
As the mom of seven, I invite each child to choose a color for the year. When one child has a blue backpack and notebooks, and another child selects green, it is easy to identify which supplies belong to which student anytime and anywhere. A milk crate or similar container large enough to hold everything each child will take to class makes weekday mornings run smoother. By checking assignments and placing completed homework into the crate the night before, my children easily grab and go the next day.
Not Just for School
My back-to-school shopping list goes far beyond thoughts of the first day of class. While price and selection are particularly good, I stock up on back-to-school supplies for:
Stocking stuffers for Christmas. Adults as well as students like new pens, pencils and scissors when supplies are looking used at the school year’s halfway mark. By the time Christmas arrives, items are lost or broken, spent or nearly used up.
Watch the eyes of preschoolers light up when they receive a stocking or gift containing their very own washable markers, pad of multi-colored construction paper, scotch tape and box of Band-Aids.
For birthday gifts, fill a backpack with a stapler, hole punch and colored notecards.
Adults and kids appreciate gifts consisting of a reusable lunch bag, reusable water bottle and handy lunch containers.
Shiny new notebooks and pens are a well-received party favor when you are the party hostess. Sparkly gel pens are a hit when your guests are girls.
For a young explorer’s birthday, combine a magnifying glass, small notebook, pen, flashlight and a copy of J. Warner Wallace’s book Cold Case Christianity for Kids.
If you live in a neighborhood where trick-or-treaters will be at your door for Halloween, fill their bags with ten-cent composition books or pencils and pens from one-cent sale packages.
Grab a couple backpacks, memory sticks and small first aid kits as graduation gifts for high schoolers on their way to college.
Stores offer an inviting array of dorm supplies for college-bound students. This is the time to pick up matching bed sets, storage containers and bathroom towels. Freshen up bed and bath at home or give a color-coordinated collection for Christmas.
Shop dorm supplies for storage containers, bed and bath sets and small appliances like microwaves, rice cookers and air popcorn poppers for wedding and shower gifts.
Take advantage of clothing sales but hold back from purchasing everything for the whole year. Fill the clothing needs for your student for this season, knowing that holiday specials will be here quickly as well as after Christmas sales. Girls particularly like to have the ability to regularly shop for fresh outfits and new styles.
This is a good time to pick up packages of socks.
Check shoe stores for sales on footwear.
Where to Shop
Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Walgreens and Walmart offer deals on pencils, pens, paper, notebooks, glue sticks and markers. For my crew of kids, I found the best price for quality notebooks in bulk at Costco.
Look for sales on laptops at Costco, Dell, Sam’s Club and Walmart.
Featuring clothing specials are JC Penney, Kohl’s, Lands’ End, Macy’s and Target. Both JC Penney and Kohl’s give awards for every dollar spent to use toward future purchases. Target often has the best price on school uniforms.
Sporting goods stores like Dick’s fill the racks with athletic apparel. Pick up what you need for your student and buy ahead for upcoming birthdays.
Of course, while back-to-school shopping, I am on the lookout for supplies for my home office. Already I found multi-colored paperclips, a notepad, file folders and a blank book I can’t wait to fill. All for under $5!
PeggySue Wells is the author of a couple dozen books including a couple bestsellers, an audio finalist and several co-authored projects because she writes well with others. Her titles include The Slave Across the Street, Slavery in the Land of the Free, Rediscovering Your Happily Ever After and Bonding with Your Child Through Boundaries. Share your stories about back-to-school savings with PeggySue at www.PeggySueWells.com
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