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Stretch Your Budget

Posted August 15, 2012 in Advice Column

It’s back-to-school time, which means it’s also back-to-school shopping season.

As a new school year approaches, shopping for school supplies doesn’t have to break your family’s budget. Here are seven tips to help maximize your savings this year.

 •    Reuse items from last year. If you dig deep enough in your closets, you may find plenty of school supplies left over from last year. Take time to do an inventory of the supplies you have on hand, and plan to reuse items that are still in good condition.

    •    Determine your family’s needs for the year. Before you begin shopping, take time to review the list of supplies provided by the school, and compare it to the items you already have on hand. Create a list of the items you’ll need to purchase — and then be sure to stick to your list.

 •    Determine your budget. Decide how much you plan to spend for back-to-school shopping this year. As you do your shopping, keep a record of your purchases, and be aware of how these purchases fit into your overall budget.

    •    Comparison shop. Scour the weekly ads to find the best prices on supplies and back-to-school basics. Keep a list of these prices with you so you can easily compare prices and find the best value.

    •    Search for quality used items. You may be able to find great deals on clothing items, backpacks and other supplies at consignment stores or garage sales. Taking time to find quality used items can pay off when you find the items you need at a fraction of the price.

 •    Stock up for the year. Many discount stores offer their best prices on supplies during the back-to-school season. If your budget allows, it may be worth buying extra folders, notebooks, pens, pencils and other supplies while they are on sale. This way you’ll have a supply built for the rest of the school year that can even be reused next year.

    •    Involve your children in the process. Parents and mentors can use the back-to-school shopping experience as an opportunity to explain the difference between “wants” and “needs.” For example, your child may want to purchase a box of pencils featuring his or her favorite cartoon character or superhero, but at $3 per package, the pencils are a luxury compared to a standard box of pencils that may cost 50 cents. Discuss the difference between “wants” and “needs,” and explain how this has an impact on your family’s back-to-school shopping budget.

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

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