Back to School Supplies

Every May, parents are just as tired of the school year as their kids, but they would be smart to remember this is a good time of year to buy school supplies. Buying essential school equipment in May is like buying winter clothing at the end of the cold weather months. Stores want to get this merchandise off their shelves, so they offer cut-rate prices for you to take the product out of the retail outlet. Store the supplies for a couple of short months and you would be thinking about buying school clothes and classroom supplies, anyway.

I’m not talking about pens and paper, so much. People need these throughout the year, whether they attend classes or not. What you’ll want to focus on are those items which are most often used in an academic setting: construction paper, protractors, pencil bags, folders, and leather ring binders. The price on these study aids adds up quickly, so finding them in the bargain bin helps offset the huge cost of sending your kids back to class. Remember, you’ll end up spending a lot of money on clothes and other expenses when autumn classes start again, so get some of the expenses out of the way right now. This is especially true with older teenagers and college students. Tuition costs a lot of money. Buying books is an absolute nightmare. Clothes cost more, because kids these days think their campus is a fashion show. You’ll probably be supplying an automobile, so that’s an extra expense.

If you aren’t reading this until August, then remember to take advantage of the tax-free weekend, if these tax holidays exist in your local area. In many ways, this lowers the costs in a similar fashion. You’ll have to put up with huge crowds, but that’s worth the price if you’re getting an extra 5% to 10% off the cost of everything. Not every product in the store is going to go untaxed on this special weekend, but most of what you’ll be buying is going to be less expensive. These laws have been enacted in certain states to help parents deal with rising costs of buying back-to-school supplies. It’s a good idea and, if your state government doesn’t offer these incentives, I suggest you write your state representatives to call for action.

Those who miss the tax free sales should consider clipping coupons. Extreme couponing is a good time any day of the year, but if you’ve missed several chances to cut costs, you need to make up the difference some way. No one should be forced to pay full price for their kids’ school supplies.

Remember, ways always exist that you can get ahead–or at least keep up with the rising cost of living. Inflation is like the Red Queen’s chessboard from The Looking Glass: you often have to run faster just to stay in place. Buying school supplies when they’re cheaper is just one of those ways to beat the cost of living.