Back to School: The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Can you believe it?  It’s almost time for our kids to get back to school!!  This season can be exciting and yet stressful at the same time for families. It's not only a huge adjustment to a new routine but there are also expenses (sometimes hefty ones!) that come with the onset of a new school year. Just like with the overall concept of budgeting, planning is a key to reducing or even eliminating stress in terms of school time shopping. Here are 5 key strategies for getting an A+ in back-to-school shopping:
Look for early bird deals: Big box stores like Staples or Walmart often have huge back-to-school savings. Look for those penny deals to save big on standard school supplies and stock up.
Take advantage of bulk pricing: You have to really watch bulk pricing to make sure it's a good deal but if it is, don't be afraid to dive in for the big savings. Find a friend or two with kids who need the same supplies and split the package (and the cost) and then you have exactly what you need at a great price. That's a win for everyone.
Stock up year round: There are often deals for school supplies throughout the year as businesses get new stock in or work to get rid of the remnants of the season's wares. Take advantage of their deep discounts to empty their shelves to fill your own at a reduced price. Just be wary not to buy things that will expire or dry out before you have a chance to use them.
Know before you go: Back-to-school clothes shopping can sometimes be the biggest expense but it doesn't have to be. Before you go back-to-school clothes hunting, take a full inventory of what you already have. If your child has 5 pair of jeans that still fit really well and are in good shape, there may not be a need for more. Buy only what you need now - we all know they'll grow later! You also may want to try buying just one special outfit to start the year instead of a whole new wardrobe. This not only saves on the bottom line but it saves you a ton of time since you won't be hunting all over town for a carload of clothes!
Keep last year's list: At least through elementary school (and a good portion of middle school), the school supply list doesn't change much from year to year. Hang on to last year's list and then you'll  have an eye for those items you need to look for savings on throughout the year. Buying a few things each month can make it easier to budget rather than buying them all at once the week before school starts.
Put these strategies in place and you'll be able to get everything you need at a savings and with a lot less stress. This will allow you to enjoy this time of growth for your children and celebrate the milestone that each grade level provides.