To help you get into the back-to-school-shopping spirit, here are five tips to aid in this transitional season.

Shop around.

After the fourth of July, back-to-school ads abound. Pay attention! Glancing through these ads can give you a general idea of how different stores are pricing their supplies. As with any purchase, make sure you find the best bargain. You don’t want to come across notebooks several dollars cheaper than you paid. Rather than making separate trips to each store to check prices, make note of prices you didn’t see in ads whenever you stop by that store normally. Or you can check online!

Start early.

Instead of frantically rifling through half-empty shelves come the first day of school, why not eliminate the stress and shop early? Supplies will be far less picked over. Furthermore, it may take more than one trip to gather all the required materials. I know that I'm very particular about choosing planners, for instance, so I can’t expect to walk into my first store and walk out with the planner I want. Starting early allows time to scope out other options.

Stockpile for the entire year, not just first semester.

If you're not too picky about what you end up with, back-to-school sales are your friend. Stock up on essentials so you won't have to traipse back every semester. That way when some tragic accident befalls your child's notebook, you'll have plenty on hand to replace it with.

Let your children choose their own supplies.

To you, one backpack looks much like another; to your child, a backpack can be an embarrassment or an expression of her identity. Letting your child choose school supplies has the benefit of easing him or her into the school mindset. The transition from summer to school can be abrupt, but if your child is already picking out supplies, he or she will be less surprised when their precious days of freedom end. Plus, back-to-school shopping can remind your child of the positive aspects of school, from field trips to friends.

A deal is not a deal if you do not need the product being offered.

My mother drilled this financial advice into my head at a very young age. 1) If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 2) A deal is only a deal if you need the product. Basically, if you can get two gallons of milk free with a pint of ice cream but you are lactose intolerant, that is not a deal for you! Getting a free pair of shoes with the purchase of another may be a smoking save for you, but beware of “deals” that advertise products you don’t actually need.

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The Organized Mom

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