ThriftyFun News July 31, 2004 - Gearing Up for Back To School

ThriftyFun News
Gearing Up for Back To School

Volume Six, Number 29, July 31, 2004


Today's issue deals with preparing to send kids back to school. We have a few articles and some links. We also welcome your tips, we will publish them throughout the week on the website and in the Daily Thrifty Tips newsletter.


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This newsletter contains:

  • Simplify Back to School Shopping - Save Money, Too!
  • Reduce Stress of Back-to-School Shopping
  • Reducing the Cost of Office and School Supplies
  • Back to School Lunches
  • Back to School Lunch Ideas
  • Save Money on back-to-school shopping
  • Saving on Back to School Expenses
  • How to Save on Back to School Purchases

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Gearing Up for Back To School

Simplify Back to School Shopping -- Save Money, Too!
By Nancy Peterson

MANHATTAN, Kan. - The beginning of a new school year can be an exciting time, but back-to-school costs can stress parents, said Katey Walker, Kansas State University Research and Extension family resource specialist.

Expenses - enrollment fees, activity/rental fees, lunch payments, and supplies, for example - add up. So does the cost of new shoes, clothing, and incidentals, like a class field trip, admission to sporting events or a school play, she said.


Thinking like a businessperson can, however, help parents reduce the stress of back-to-school shopping. In fact, following good business practices also may help stretch the funds available, said Walker, who offered these businesslike, back-to-school shopping tips:

Make a list of the must-haves.

"School districts provide a list of enrollment costs, lunch fees, and supplies. The list usually is printed in the local newspaper and/or also available from school district offices," said Walker, who encouraged parents to make a list of fixed expenses.

Make an inventory of what you already have.

The inventory process, which usually also involves sorting, can help parents and children identify what still is usable. Then they can set aside outgrown, but still usable items, for others in the family, community thrift shop or clothing exchange.

"Teaching children to consider the needs of others is a lesson that can come from the inventory process. It also reminds children of what they have, and may help them be more able to differentiate between needs and wants," Walker said.

Assess the difference between 'usable' and 'acceptable.'

Usable items may not always be acceptable - some worn clothing items may be best reserved for after-school play. If resources permit, plan to supplement hand-me-downs with some new purchases.

Prioritize expenses.

"Cover immediate - and essential - needs like enrollment fees, school lunch fees, and any special required items first," the family resource specialist said.

A child's age, interest, and current growth rate influence expenditures, but parents sometimes say they prefer to postpone purchases until after school starts so that children can see what others are wearing.

One good strategy might be to keep some money available for later purchases. Postponing the purchase of a new winter coat until cool weather is imminent also can be advisable, particularly for a child who is growing rapidly, she said.

Time available at home also is a factor. For example, if a child is growing rapidly, parents may want to purchase fewer clothing items and plan to do laundry more frequently.

Consider a compromise.

The choice of basic clothing or spending more for designer clothing or the latest character lunch box can challenge parents.

"Children can feel intense pressure to fit in and may want one or more items that other children have. Trying to accommodate them occasionally - or compromising on a specific item - can help make a child feel more accepted," said Walker, who encouraged parents to strive for balance.

If a child routinely wants more than their parents can afford - or think they should spend - it may be time to consider an allowance that covers such expenses. Shifting the decision-making power usually ends arguments. Allowing an older child to spend 'their own money' also often results in more careful decisions, she said.

Check a store's return policy and/or guarantees before buying.

Check purchases for flaws before leaving the store. Check them again immediately after purchase.

Weigh quality vs. price.

Spending a little more on a winter jacket that can be worn more than one season usually offers more for the money than a garment like a costume or trendy shirt that may be worn for a short time.

"Consider the length of time items like a backpack or calculator will be needed," Walker said.

Save receipts - place them in an envelope or folder.

Use credit with caution.

"If paying with a credit card rather than cash, check or a debit card, assess what you can reasonably pay when the bill is likely to come. Charging more than you can comfortably afford to pay may reduce the ability to accommodate other upcoming expenses. Paying interest on extended payments also adds to purchase price," she said.

"Back-to-school shopping trips can be good one-on-one experiences for parents and children, particularly when children have been involved in the inventory process," said Walker, who advised parents to take the inventory with them.

Shopping when stores are least likely to be crowded and at a time when both parent and child are well-rested is recommended. Waiting until the last minute is almost guaranteed to add stress, she said.

For more information on consumer strategies, interested persons can contact their local K-State Research and Extension office.

About The Author: By Nancy Peterson, Communications Specialist - K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

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Reduce Stress of Back-to-School Shopping
By Nancy Peterson

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Trying on clothes probably isn't on most kids' list of favorite things to do, but it is an essential part of shopping for back-to-school or other new clothing, said Marla Day, Kansas State University Research and Extension associate clothing specialist.

* Shopping for new school clothes should be fun, but often isn't.

* "Cost is one issue - children's clothes and shoes are costly. Growing children may need replacements in a matter of weeks or months; middle or high school students' clothing may cost as much - or more - than parents' clothing. Parents and children also may not always agree on what to buy," Day said.

* There are, however, ways to simplify the process. The clothing specialist offered these tips:

* Take an inventory of each child's clothing.

Ask the child to try on clothes, and make a list of still-usable items. Sort clothing - some may still fit, but be stained or out of style and no longer suitable for school wear.

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Reducing the Cost of Office and School Supplies
By Naomi Knudsen

Ben Franklin once said, 'A penny saved is a dollar earned.' Here are some tips for saving some pennies and maybe a few dollars by reducing the costs of those supplies for school or the office.

Tip 1.

Take inventory of what supplies you already have and keep them all in a designated area, so you can find them when you need them.

Tip 2.

A three-ring binder from the last school year or tossed by a business or one from a conference can be salvaged and disguised if necessary with stickers or contact paper.

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Back to School Lunches

Back to school lunches (YUK) is what I hear, I have a 6 year old starting grade 1 who doesn't like sandwiches, soup, cheese and crackers and not much fruit !! Very fussy! Anyone have some good creative ideas that would appeal to this fussbucket?? Thanks - Cheapie

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Back to School Lunch Ideas
By Brandie Valenzuela

It is that time of the year again - back to school! While some are returning this next week, others have been back for quite a own children returned to school over a month ago. However, it go without saying, that no matter if your children have been back for a while or if they are just now starting to get ready for the big day, you can never have too many lunch ideas!

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Save Money on back-to-school shopping  

HOUSTON, July 15, 2004 -- Near the end of every summer, parents of school-aged children face one of their largest single expenses: getting their kids ready for a new school year. In fact, studies by the National Retail Federation found that consumers spend around $500 per household on back-to- school shopping.

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Saving on Back to School Expenses

Frugal ways to avoid back to school shopping sprees

What happened? Here I was, all involved in drinking iced tea on the patio and watching the neighbor's kids play in the sprinkler when someone said it was time to start thinking about back to school shopping.

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How to Save on Back to School Purchases

The Problem" Does anyone out there have any ideas on reducing back-to- school expenses? I have a third grader and a kindergartner. Both need backpacks, notebooks, crayons, etc., not to mention shoes and clothes!

I have their supply lists, and things are coming on sale now. I also shop at the second hand store, which helps a lot. Any other help would be appreciated! S.

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