Getting ready to go back to school can be costly for all families, but especially military families who might have to pick up and move at a moment's notice. School supplies including new clothes, notebooks and calculators can rack up a hefty bill if you don't actively work to keep costs reasonable.
According to Credit.com, many military parents are planning to spend much less this fall on back-to-school supplies for their children in light of the recent economic downturn.
55% will use supplies from the previous academic year
52% will spend less on back-to-school clothes
50% won't purchase new electronics, such as a calculator or computer
45% plan to shop at discount stores
38% will search for cheaper school supplies
31% will purchase fewer school supplies in general
19% will dress children in hand-me-down clothes
19% plan to buying supplies in bulk
12% plan to have college-age children live at home rather than a dorm room
10% will share school supplies with other families
In addition to these money-saving techniques, military children can also receive the school supplies they need through Operation Homefront's Back-to-School Brigade, during which Operation Homefront partners with Dollar Tree to gather donations and provide backpacks full of supplies for military children. The program raised more than $2 million in school supplies in 2011 and gave 33,000 backpacks to military kids.
Here are other practical tips for saving money as you shop for school supplies this fall:
Start shopping for supplies earlier rather than later. They won't be picked over, and there will likely be early-bird sales at your local grocery store, Target, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Office Depot, Staples, Office Max or another store.
Keep an eye out for coupon fliers in the mail or newspaper.
If you see a good deal, go for it. If you wait for an item to go down in price even more, you might have to pay more for it later as the school year approaches.
Store school supplies you buy in an easy-to-find place. Losing supplies before school starts will cause you to have to spend even more money.
If you're brave enough, wait until school begins to buy school supplies. There are sure to be bargains because the stores need to make room for new merchandise.