It happens every year - July rolls around and families start worrying about the cost of going back to school.
Luckily, you don't have to go broke to get back to school with all of the needed supplies. There are many ways to plan ahead and save money. My favorite back-to-school shopping tips are easy and effective. I don't feel like I have to sacrifice the items my family needs in order to save money.
First, take stock of what you have around your home. You may be surprised to find crayons, pens and pencils stashed away. You may get lucky and find some unused folders and a calculator as well. By assessing what you already have, you can avoid purchasing duplicate items.
Shop national office-supply stores, national drugstores and stores such as Toys R Us and Best Buy to get school supplies for little or no money. Yes, even free! You can easily check out the weekly ads for these stores in your Sunday newspaper. You'll see great deals for items that happen to be on your supply list.
Remember that it pays to be an early bird. Scour your Sunday circulars for early-bird sales, exclusive coupons and sale alerts at your favorite stores. These start as early as July, so keep your eyes peeled and stock up when you can. Come August, you could very well have all of your shopping done and beat the rush.
Don't miss out on Florida's tax-free holiday, Aug. 2-4. Take advantage of tax-free shopping days to maximize savings. You'll save 6 percent or more on books, clothing, and footwear ($75 or less) and school supplies ($15 or less).
Additionally, Facebook is a great place to find out when your favorite stores are running back-to-school specials. Follow your favorite stores on Facebook and Twitter for exclusive coupons and pre-sale alerts. Then, stack your savings by combining sales with coupons to get the best price. You also can sign up for store newsletters, online mailing lists and other notifications.
Follow these tips and you will find that preparing to go back to school can be a stress-free time that doesn't break the bank. Be a savvy shopper and get your child ready on even the tightest of budgets.
(For more tips on saving money, go to time2saveworkshops.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.shns.com.)