How to Save Money on School Supplies

Back to school, like Christmas is a family budget-buster today. According to a study by Huntington Bank, the Backpack Index revealed that the average cost of sending a child back to school was $1000 in 2017.

You do not need to drain your bank account and spend that much though. If you plan and start early, it will only cost you a fraction of the $ 1000 to set your kids off.

Here are strategies to help you shop for back to school as a frugal parent, whether your kids are off to college, or starting kindergarten.

Supply sweep

Round up all school and office supplies you own. If you look around, you may have plenty of these lying around your house in the desk drawers, basements bin or closets. Office and schools supplies that you own can help you save a significant amount of money.

Collect all of them in a central location like the dining room. Make a list or take pictures of what you have and carry the list or photos with you to the store when going for shopping to remember what you have.

Also, check the kids closets and dispose of worn-out clothes. Donate or sell what your child has outgrown. The sweep will give you a clear picture of what you need to buy and prevent you from getting what you already have.

Plan a supply swap

Get your neighbors and friends on board, and organize a supply swap before you go shopping. You may have things that they need, like reams of paper bought on sale but will never use. Someone else may have some packs of pencils that they would willingly trade for the paper. Family and friends with school-going children may have extra supplies that they will not mind trading in. Talk to them and sell the idea.

Shop at thrift stores and garage sales

You will find used shoes in good condition, clothing, school supplies and even backpacks in garage sales. Hit up the garage sales for all the things you need as they are a treasure trove. Though this may take time, you may get great bargains and save significantly on back to school clothes and supplies. All you need to do is to start early, and also ask family and friends to keep an eye on garage sales near them. Moms will also find great bargains on other things.

Thrift stores are also a great way to save. Many stores run back to school items sales for parents and clothing is incredibly affordable. Since many parents are after saving, the selection is picked over early, hence you need to start early.

Start shopping for clothes in mid-June to late July when the clothes selection is plenty. Put the clothes away until school start so as not to wear off the newness of the clothes.

Consignment stores

Here you will find great bargains on used clothing as their products are vetted, unlike the thrift store. You will not have to go through blouses from 1975 to get a designer cloth on a budget.

Check if consignment shops around you will have summer sales. Many organize seasonal sales. Keep watch on the back-to-school shopping season as several stores may have a mega-sale in one location.

Check the dollar store

Dollar stores have incredible school supplies bargains and you will find basic things like pencils and notebooks, sanitizer, and Kleenex, all at discounted prices. Shop in summer months as you will never know what the stores will order and how long the items will be in stock.

Compare prices

Amazon’s ever-changing prices are a great way to save on kids electronics that most parents have to buy. Websites like camelcamelcamel track the history of the price range for every product on Amazon. Sign up for the price change alert of the particular products so that you can tell when it changes.

There are many apps to help save money by comparing prices across retailers to find out the best deal. ShopSavvy, available for Android and iOS users will let you know if a product is available at a lower price in another store when you scan the barcode. Download a barcode scanner for it to work.

Also, check your nearest drugstore or grocery store for the best prices on school supplies. You may be surprised that items are cheaper in your neighborhood when on sale than the big stores. If you have any store dollars from loyalty programs, consider using them and save.

Conclusion

Many parents would rather enjoy summer than think of back to school shopping for the coming school year. However, it pays to prepare early. Planning ahead will save you money as you take advantage of every sale and opportunity to save that comes your way. Find a safe way of keeping the coupons you collect through the year as they will come in handy when shopping for back to school.

This post is a collaborative effort by St. Louis Dad.

Read More

20 Tips for Saving Money on Groceries

Trying to spend less this year? Cooking dinner for your family doesn’t have to wreak havoc on your wallet. Here are 20 tips on cutting costs while buying groceries:

 

  1. Avoid inner isles

Go straight to the shelves of essentials groceries. Stores place basics on opposite ends to trick you into buying more products.

 

  1. Use coupons

Coupons will save you money on groceries. Combine products that are on sale with coupons to save more.

 

  1. Forget toiletries

Toiletries are expensive at the supermarket. Instead, buy them at a cheaper price at the pharmacy.

 

  1. Avoid fad brands

Generic brands are cheaper than name-brand products, but they still are made up of the same ingredients. Don’t be fooled!

 

  1. Check out all the shelves

You first see products in your eye level. Stores often place pricier items on these shelves. Look for cheaper groceries on the shelves below or above your eye-level.

 

  1. Consider rain checks

Basic items sell out fast when placed on sale. Ask for rain check items; these products’ sale has been extended.

 

  1. Buy dried beans

Cooking dried beans is cheaper than buying canned beans. They have a superior taste, too. Beans make for a cheap and easy meal.

 

  1. Eat before shopping

Don’t shop on an empty belly. You will buy more groceries than you actually should.

 

  1. Avoid pre-cooked meals

Pre-cooked foods can be twice as expensive as the ingredients and are often not as tasty.

 

  1. Buy produce that is in season

Buy fresh produce that is in season. Out of season products aren’t as fresh and cost more.

 

  1. Check out international markets

Most exotic spices at your local store are expensive as they have been shipped from afar. Buy cheaper imported spices at an international market in your city so that you can create meals inspired by some of the most amazing places in the world!

 

  1. Rethink when buying bottled water

The bottled water industry is worth a billion dollars, with a 16oz bottle going for a dollar. The recommended four bottles will cost you $120 every month. Why not treat water at home?

 

  1. Go with a shopping list

A shopping list helps you stick to your budget for things you need while avoiding groceries you don’t need.

 

  1. Say no to children!

Your kids will only help you increase your expenditure with stuff you don’t need. Learn to say no to their requests for junk food and toys.

 

  1. Pre-washed groceries cost more

You will pay a price for the ready-to-cook groceries at the store. Purchase groceries that have not been pre-washed instead.

 

  1. Pre-packed fruit is expensive

The store hired someone to cut and pack their fruit, and you will pay for it too. Do not buy fruit that has already been packaged for you.

 

  1. Pick fresh herbs from your kitchen garden

If you aren’t gardening, you may be paying a small fortune for herbs at the grocery store. Consider using the space available to you on your kitchen or porch for a small herb garden.

 

  1. You’re paying for the convenience of grated cheese

Grate your cheese at home with a box grater. It is easy and will save you loads of dollars.

 

  1. Prepare your spice mix

Make your spice mix at home with easy to find seasonings and spices. This way, you aren’t paying extra for someone to mix and package it.

 

  1. Compare similar products

Products such as potatoes can be cheaper when bagged as opposed to loose ones. Check product prices and make big savings.

 

Read More

10 Costco Membership Benefits You Didn’t Know About

There are significant upsides to shopping at Costco besides sampling the tasty foods and consuming some great hot dogs. The annual membership fee is one of them. Shop at the warehouse a few times and the membership costs are absorbed. What to know a couple more benefits about shopping at Costco? Here are 10 of the lesser-known benefits you may be missing out on by not having a Costco membership:

Freezer2

1. Costco has Medical Insurance

Are you looking for new medical insurance for you and/or family? Costco has you covered. It offers competitive rates for its members. For instance, Costco offers small business and personal plans. It is important to read all the details of the plan to make sure the coverage is exactly what you need.

2.Want to Check Your Health While Shopping? Costco has Health Screenings.

We just discussed health insurance in the number two spot of benefits you don’t know about. So, let’s stay on the topic. Costco also offers free health screenings via its pharmacy department. Costco offers screenings for a variety of conditions ranging from osteoporosis and diabetes. For more information about health screenings offered, check the local store events listed on online.

3. Costco has Group Vision Plans and Budget eyewear for Its Members

You have time to shop. That is not in dispute. You often don’t have time to stop for reading classes. Worry no more! There are some great deals to be found on reading glasses at Costco. It is even has multi-pack of reading glasses for those who lose them constantly (we won’t mention any names). If your medical plan doesn’t have vision insurance, once again Costco has you covered. It offers group vision plans for those who need eyewear and eye screenings.

4. Get Need Prescriptions at a Low Cost

You may not know, but it makes a difference where you buy your prescription medications. One retail pharmacy may charge more than a large pharmacy. This means if you go to the wrong pharmacy, you’re going to pay too much. Costco’s pharmacy department is one of the pharmacies that charge less for prescription medications. In fact, the prescriptions may be significantly lower than other pharmacies. Always check with various pharmacies, including Costco, to determine which is the lowest price.

5. You Will Find Unique Gift Sets

You may not know this, but sometimes Costco will package items together in gift sets. The are often available an excellent price. The gift sets include housewares and beauty supplies. They always a great buy during the holidays.

6. Costco has Low Cost Vaccinations for the Members

Costco understands that vaccinations are important to staying healthy. That’s why they are also offered at Costco’s pharmacy. The vaccinations pricing is competitive. So you can find a great deal on vaccinations for the family. If your medical insurance company doesn’t cover vaccinations, get a Costco membership.

7. Love Buying Gifts and Movie Tickets? These are Two More Benefits Costco has.

By the time you buy movie tickets and everything that goes with it (popcorn and drinks), you’ve made a big investment. One way to put the joy back into going to the movies is by buying discounted movie tickets at Costco. In fact, you can save about 25 percent. You can save the same percentage on store gift cards too.

8. Get Your Groceries at a Lower Price

Shopping at Costco can save you a lot of money. When you are there, check out the peanut butter and cheese. You’ll find some great prices. You can also stock up of many grocery items because of the price.

9. Save Money on Birthday Cakes

Some of the most amazing birthday cakes are found in Costco’s bakery department. They look beautiful, taste great and cost less than other bakeries.

10. Get Your Ink Cartridge Refills at Costco

This may be the best tip on the list. Costco will refill your ink cartridges. Take your old ink cartridges into Costco. It will refill them. You can save about 70 percent when you do this (compared to buying a new one).

There is no doubt about it. Costco is a fabulous place to find all your family’s needs from clothing to groceries and auto repair. A Costco membership is definitely a great value with many benefits.

 

Read More