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Your back-to-school shopping plan

Posted August 14, 2013 in Advice Column

August has arrived, and with it, the start of another school year. Start your back-to-school shopping with a game plan to save at the checkout line, and use the opportunity to teach your children about the importance of saving.

Make a list and get your child involved. Use the recommended or required supplies from your child’s school or teacher as a starting point. Sit down with your child and go over your list together. You’ll be teaching your child how to get organized, a skill that applies to more than shopping.

•    Take inventory. Once your list is complete, take some time to search your home office for items you already have. Take an inventory of the supplies you have on hand, and plan to reuse items that are still in good condition. Check those items off your list.

•    Determine a budget and separate wants from needs. Most school supplies don’t go out of style — but as any parent with last year’s superhero notebook knows, beware of the power of trends. Rather than just trying to talk your child out of the more expensive items, set an overall budget for supplies and help your child figure out how to fit items in. It will help him or her set priorities, learn how to manage money and start saving allowance for the items your budget won’t allow.

•    Buy basics in bulk. Basic items such as paper, pencils, glue sticks and notebooks are often sold in bulk at discounted prices. Consider going in with a group of other parents to split the cost and divide up the items. Or, if you have items left over, set up a supply shelf or storage container at home that can be used all year to avoid late-night shopping trips to buy notebook paper when your child runs out. Plus, you’ll know where to find unused items when it comes time to shop for supplies next year.

•    Shop end-of-summer sales. Kids wear some clothes all year long. Hit the big end-of-summer sales, and snatch up discounted items that can be worn well into fall.

•    Figure out when quality counts. Leaky pens will cost you more in ruined clothes than some more expensive varieties. In the event that a strap or zipper breaks, a backpack with a warranty might be a good investment, even if it costs more.

Information provided by Webster City Federal Savings Bank, 820 Des Moines St., Webster City, 515-832-3071,

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