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4 Ways to Work "Back to School" Supplies into Your Budget

Summer has come and gone, and now it’s time to get back to school. Whether you’re a college student or just shopping for your child, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by just how expensive back to school shopping can be. There’s a reason student debt has reached epidemic status, and the hard truth is that education is expensive no matter how you approach it.

That means that even shaving a little off the cost of buying school supplies can be a huge financial relief. But how can you keep the cost down and still get everything you need? It’s not as hard as you might think, and here are 4 simple ways you can keep costs down and ramp your savings up.

Inventory the Supplies You Already Have

To avoid waste when shopping for school supplies, the first step is to take stock of what you already have. There’s no point in getting another backpack when you already have three lying around collecting dust. If you have older kids, odds are they have supplies from past years that your younger kids can use. Even something as simple as a pencil doesn’t need to be replaced until it’s just a nub, and the savings from these hand me downs adds up quick.

Use Used

This can take a lot of shapes, but the core of the idea is to keep costs down by avoiding buying anything new. Hand-me-downs, consignment stores, garage sales, and used bookstores are all great options for finding the things you need at a fraction of the cost compared to buying new. Look for bargains year-round, as the picking get much slimmer as the school year approaches. It make take a little more time and diligence, but it’ll definitely save you money.

Take Advantage of Sales

While not all the sales you’ll find advertised for the back-to-school season will be worth it, there are some bargains to be had. To make sure you actually get the best deal possible, take stock of all the different sales in your area, and then zero in on the few best ones. Most importantly, don’t buy anything on sale that you wouldn’t otherwise buy. Just because something’s on sale doesn’t mean you need it or it makes sense to buy.

Buy in Bulk

Buying in bulk is almost always cheaper than buying supplies in limited quantities, and the truth is that certain things you’ll need year after year. Pencils, papers, binders and pens: all these items are things your kids will need year after year. And while buying in bulk can equate to big savings, be careful not to go overboard. It defeats the purpose if you buy more than you’ll ever use, and it simply creates expensive clutter in your house.

Start the School Year

By following these four steps, you should be in pretty good shape for school to start. The final thing to consider is what to do if you get hit by an emergency or simply don’t have the money to buy the supplies you need. If you’re worried about either, a car title loan may be your best option. It’s fast and convenient and can put cash in your hands in as little as 30 minutes.