Best and worst back-to-school purchases
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By GreatSchools Staff
From Carrie: "Our school wants a paint shirt, so I went to a secondhand store and got a T-shirt because at the end of the year you are going to throw it away. And you can find nice shirts for hardly anything."
"Face it, we all received hand-me-downs at a point in time from a relative, a friend, or even a sibling to give to our child," writes Massachusetts dad James H. Carter III, who advises shopping at second-hand stores like Savers in his area. He said he and his wife were able to able to get 9 pairs of jeans, 3 pairs of slacks, 5 pairs of shorts, 11 long-sleeved shirts, 5 short-sleeved shirts, 3 pairs of sneakers,and 2 pairs boots for $236.79. "The great thing is all are name-brand fashions," he says. "Great deals do come cheap. So my advice to all parents looking to shop for the school season is, shop wise and budget."
One mom recommends shopping on the eBay online auction site and also in resale shops, where she can take her son's used clothes in and get a store credit. That gives her "a place to shop when the cash flow is low and he is in dire need of something. Where I live, there are several places that take stuff, and you can get cash or store credit. Usually if you take store credit, you get 25% or so more back. Lots of items I can buy for him are still new with tags and are as good as buying at the store."
A good-quality electric pencil sharpener
"I tried to be economical and bought several inexpensive versions and regretted every one, " writes Michelle Levine, a mother of two boys, 7 and 11. "Invest $20+/- at an office supply store for a decent, electric, plug-in sharpener. You'll wonder how you lived without it."
Most valuable shopping tip
"The best idea I've heard of to save on school supplies is a 'closet swap,'" Florida mom HJ Wellington writes. "Everybody brings usable school uniforms to a swap and exchanges the clothing. Big savings!"
Shopping advice for your parent group for next year
From Alice P.: "The best back-to-school purchase we made last year was the supply pack sold by the PTA. All of the teachers for each grade agree on a list of supplies required for each child to bring to class. Everything from pencils and paper to tissues and hand sanitizer. They have it all packaged up and sell it for about $45. It saves us a lot of money and the hassle of that trip to the discount store with kids that have the "gimmes." It also puts all the kids on a level playing field in terms of the "haves" and the "have nots." (When everybody has the same scissors, crayons, folders etc, the kids get to know each other for who they are, not what they have.)"
Worst back-to-school buys
"A hand pencil sharpener for a kindergartner" — just too hard to use.
"The mandated agenda [planner] from their school. It did not last and was bulky."
"By far, I would say the two-inch binders," writes Sandra B. of New Jersey. "My daughter will be an eighth-grader, and last year as seventh-graders, the students were required to have a couple of 2-inch binders coupled with 1.5-inch binders. ... It was unrealistic in the expectation that these binders and books would fit into a backpack. My daughter had to devise a system of taking some out and leaving them in the wall locker. This too presented a problem, since the children were not allowed to go to their lockers in between classes. My solution to the situation was to repurchase 1-inch binders for all the classes."