While thinking about what to share for this month's Take Time Out article, I coincidently had a conversation with my sister-in-law Sommer Poquette, aka Green and Clean Mom, about the topic of back to school expenses that families experience today.
She recently had written an article for her blog and was happy to share with me, and all of you, ideas for combating those ever increasing costs; yet preparing your children for another great school year.
It's back to school time but is your wallet ready for the expense? With notebooks, pencils, crayons, new shoes and lunch boxes, the cost at the register will have any parent, guardian, or grandparent feeling the back to school blues. There was a great report by Shelby Star on the cost of school supplies and everything can really add up and according to the article the average spent per child is $688.62. For families with multiple children or uniforms this is not an easy number to fork out of your pocket -- who has that type of extra cash?
Is it all necessary?
Yes, kids want new jeans and a backpack but there are some clever ways to get thrifty when it comes to back to school shopping. I remember the excitement of wearing my new shoes and having fresh new pencils; I wouldn't want to deprive any child of this excitement and anticipation but I'm not all for parents going broke or in debt either. There's no need to break the bank with these five back to school shopping tips:
1. Thrift store shopping
Yes, there are some great deals to be found when hitting the local thrift stores and you'll be surprised to find gently used or even brand new items with tags on them. Make it fun for the kids and have them help you "hunt" for their size or items they like. I often explain that when shopping at my local Gold Mine or Goodwill I'm helping those in need. The shopping has a purpose: saves you money and teaches the children a good lesson.
2. Have a clothing swap.
Invite friends and family over with children that are approximately the same age or have kids within a few years of each other. Ask them to bring a grocery bag full of items that do not fit their child anymore. Everyone can swap gently used items and for the cost of some cookies and beverages you'll have a good time, help stock the kids' closets and have fun.
3. Make backpacks new.
Wash last year's backpack and with some iron on patches that your child picks out you have a new and unique backpack, a one of a kind that no other kid at school will have. Choosing and ironing on the patches makes the project way more fun than buying a new one.
4. Reuse old binders.
Why buy more plastic binders when last year's three-ring binder is in great shape. With stickers, glue on jewels, markers and colored contact paper, or even patterned duct tape you have a new and stylish binder. The process will be fun and something to do before school starts. I promise your child will want to do this again and again and so will their friends so beware.
5. Shop after school starts.
Do the kids really need new clothing the first day of school? Consider waiting until they need warmer clothing, jackets, hats and jeans. The first few weeks of schools my kids wear their summer clothing and sweatshirts. This gives you more time to save and look for good deals or clearance items after the back to school rush dies down.
Good luck with the back to school shopping and remember to stick to the list and have a great first day back.
Link to resource:
Sommer Poquette Blog: http://greenandcleanmom.org
Today's "Take Time Out" column was submitted by Jim Rummer, director of Char-EM ISA Career & Technical Education and a Child Abuse Council board member. The "Take Time Out" column appears on the fifth Friday or fifth Monday of each month. The next column will be published on Monday, Oct. 29. Send questions, comments or article suggestions to: Child Abuse Council, P.O. Box 414, Petoskey, Mich. 49770.