Take Time To Plan: If you have school aged children, you are likely somewhere between "I really want to go to the pool today" and "We have to buy school supplies before Meet the Teacher tonight!" This year, give yourself the gift of time and use August to plan ahead. Starting August 1st, block one hour each day to tackle back to school tasks. If you think this is too much time to prepare, you are in denial Mom! Consider how long it may take to sort through current clothing with each child to see what fits and what doesn't before purchasing new items...not to mention shopping with your children for any replacements due. Consider how long it can take to inventory current homework station and project supplies before purchasing new items while also tackling each child's school supply list of items to bring on the first day. And finally, remember that once you start clearing closets out, you'll be cleaning up rooms and donating old items no longer needed...all of which takes time, albeit well spent. So, block those hours now so you can tackle things one day at a time and you'll find you'll not only be ready, but you'll be relaxed too!
Take Time to Save: Unfortunately, families nationwide are facing financial challenges and with the average back to school spending reaching close to $600 per child, parents are squeezing out every penny they can to keep tight budgets in check. To ease your bank account, include your children by discussing how important it is to be cost conscious and challenge them to be a part of researching the lowest prices ahead of store visits for any items in need. First, make the most of tax free weekends your state may offer at this all important time of year. Many states now include furniture and computers under certain price points as well as school supplies and clothing, all in high demand. Next, make the most of deep discounts when you find them, stocking up on glue sticks for the year when you find them for a nickel or plenty of pencils and crayons when they are just 25 cents a box. Visit manufacturers and retailers websites alike for coupons and watch the sale flyers all month to maximize your savings in the end. Also, when it comes to clothes, go discount retailer and resale whenever you can. Especially for brand conscious teens, you are likely to find an abundance of labels they love at a fraction of the cost and more importantly, this step will stretch your dollar. And one last note, after the school year gets underway, visit resale shops specializing in sports equipment and music supplies to satisfy any extra-curricular needs which can come with participation fees and physicals as well as the new gear in tow.
Take Time to Share: Now that you've cleaned and donated things you no longer need, take a closer look to see what more you can do. First, before you purchase anything this month, see if you can find it either on Freecycle.com or at Craigslist.com. While one is free, assuming you have posted an item to give previously, and the other is for sale, both are great ways to find unique items at a greatly reduced to no cost price point, and that works great for me! Next, consider ways that you can share your resources this fall, both personally and as a family. Our time is priceless and also completely free, so look at how you can help your school by volunteering in ways that work for you. Choose simple things, like collecting Box Tops for Education or lead the way by organizing an eco-friendly fund raiser from companies like Green Students Fundraising, Ltd. Both these steps are valuable and needed in your school community. And finally, if your budget will allow, consider donating non-perishable food items to a local food bank and school supplies to fellow classmates or organizations that will help disadvantaged students get the food and supplies they need. This is a teachable moment to include your children and open their eyes to how blessed they really are, no matter how modest, to be provided for, safe and secure.
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