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Top Ten Tuesday: Tips for Back to School Shopping

Jul 21, 2014 10:52PM ● By Fredericksburg Parent Staff

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Time for new pencils, crisp new clothes, and new backpacks to replace the ones that barely crawled into the end of the school year in June. (See tip #7 for this one. FredParent's webmaster did this last week when she bought an Eddie Bauer backpack for her high school junior that comes with a lifetime warranty. She figured that spending $70 once was better than spending $40 twice or three times or more.)

Here's a great list of tips to help you organize your back-to-school shopping strategy to get the most bang for your buck.

This article was originally posted in The Learning Zone's blog here on the FredParent website. Thanks to Nina Parrish for letting us share!

Take an Inventory, Reuse, and Recycle

Look to see what’s left over from last year. It is likely that there are many binders, pencils, pens, calculators, and other supplies that can be reused. Let kids use stickers or paper to decorate and add a personal touch to reused binders or notebooks to make them seem new again.

Make a list

After you have figured out what you already have. Make a list of what items still need to be purchased. Each school has a list of recommended or required supplies by teacher or grade level. Often this list is posted on the school website. If it is not, contact your child’s school to find out what supplies will be required for your child’s grade level.

Avoid Gimmicks

Help your child to sort out wants from needs by sticking to the recommended list. Buy basic supplies instead of fancy or flashy versions. They are more likely to break or cause a distraction. Definitely avoid anything that lights up, makes a noise, or could be distracting to your student or others.

Back-to-School Swap

Get together with a group of parents and host a back-to-school swap where kids trade school supplies and clothes that they are tired of or have outgrown for ones that are new to them.

Consider Color-Coding by Class

Buy a binder, notebook, book cover, and folder that are the same color for each subject. It will make it easier for your student to grab the correct items quickly from their locker.

Shop Smart

Browse the circulars before you leave to check out deals at local stores. Many stores offer price matching like: Staples, Office Depot, Office Max, and Walmart, where you can show them a sale price from another store, and they will match that price. No time to plan ahead? Use your smartphone and an app like the ShopSavvy app to compare prices in the store and ensure that you are getting the best deal.

Buy Backpacks with a Warranty

Companies like L.L. Bean offer a 100% warranty on backpacks. If it wears out, they will replace it. You can save a lot of money by not having to buy a new backpack for each kid every year.

Buy Basic Supplies in Bulk

Basic supplies like loose-leaf paper, pencils, and pens should be bought in bulk when they are on sale. This will make it much cheaper in the long-run than buying small quantities when your kids need them.

Shop on Tax Free Weekend

Tax Free Weekend is coming up August 1st-3rd. To see what is and is not tax-free check here: In addition to products being tax-free, many stores also offer additional discounts on school supplies and clothing during this weekend.

Help your Community

Many local organizations have school supply drives this time of year. While you are out shopping, pick up a few extra supplies for kids who otherwise would not have any on their first day.

Parrish Learning Zone and Spotsylvania County Public Schools are having a Stuff the Bus School Supply Drive on Friday August 1st from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm at the Southpoint Walmart. Please drop by to shop and donate some school supplies that will go to the Spotsylvania County Treasure House which provides supplies for homeless and needy students in Spotsylvania County.

Visit The Learning Zone blog or their website.

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