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Back to school supplies - Tightwad style

OMG. The halcyon days of May when summer stretched into the horizon are over. Looming soon: back to school, and back to school supplies. Here are some tips to help you stay on budget and be green:
Shop at home: If your house is anything like Tightwad's, drawers sag with pencils, crayons, binder, labels and other miscellaneous school supplies that really belong at school. Re-using what you have is the right thing to do - take an inventory of what is needed and what you already have, and go from there. Chances are you have enough pens, rulers, calculators and lunch bags to kit out the entire class.
Do your homework: The good news: stores fight hard for your back to school dollars. Watch weekly sales circulars like a hawk to find the best buys. Don't forget: Because store X wants you to spend all of your back to school dollars at their store doesn't mean you have to; so get those 10-cent crayons, and get out. Tip: Shop at a store that offers a price matching service, and you won't have to burn up extra gas to get the good deals at other stores.
Buy what you need Once you're in the store, just ignore all those fun non-essentials. You know what they are... seductive coloured pens, locker accessories, self-stick notes. Just duck your head and focus focus focus.
How to handle your child's requests: Have a child that has super helpful advice on what they need besides what's on the official school supply list? Here are some tips:
  • Allow one extra purchase.
  • Have your child foot the bill for anything that's not on the list.
  • Have your child pay the difference between what you're willing to buy, and what they want to buy.
  • Refuse to give in to the request. It may not make you popular, but it is a chance to teach smart money management.
Personalize school supplies: Plainer school supplies cost less then their fancier counterparts and aren't as fun. A solution: Buy the budget-friendly basics then let your kids jazz them up with stickers and colourful doodles.
You get what you pay for Choose the products that look as though they're going to last. Go for the backpack with the lifetime warranty; choose the spiral notebooks with the durable plastic covers. You may spend more now, but if it means you won't have to buy replacements later, you'll end up coming out ahead.


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