Saturday, July 31, 2010

Prioritizing purchases: School sale survival

Going Green Mama just survived her first of 20 years of back-to-school shopping.

School supply sales have been in full swing for three weeks here, and I'm ready for it to be over. There's supplies. There's uniforms. There's new shoes and backpacks. It doesn't seem to end. And I realize how, so very quickly, people say they can shell out $500 a family before September hits.

The costs are a reason that many families I know do a dash among the various stores in town. Store X has crayons for a quarter. Store Y has backpacks for half-off. Store Z has cheap pens. And so forth.

For me, supply shopping has been a delicate balance of sale watching and the reality that the drive to the stores - and my time shopping - may not be worth the pennies saved. Consider the wear on your car, the oil, the gas, just to make the miles to the store. Or the fact that the hourly rate you make - which I consider the benchmark for a special trip - may vastly exceed the few dollars saved on an item, particularly when the items may or may not be in stock.

Our family's solution was to watch the sales and piggyback them on errands needed. If the pharmacy has other items I need or I'd planned a run to get a prescription, then it makes it worth it to stop to buy sale supplies. If not, it takes careful consideration whether it's worth the travel and time resources used just to save a few cents.

How do you balance the desire to save cash with the need to conserve resources and time?


Daisy said...

Great plan. Stock up and then keeping the supplies in a good place; that helps a lot mid-year when kids run out of pencils or folders break down or other supply disasters come up. I ask my 4th grade students to buy two of every notebook and folder now while they're on sale. Then I make room in a closet for the extras.

knutty knitter said...

Quite a number of the schools here have pre-made packs that include the whole list of requirements and they aren't expensive comparatively either. This doesn't include lunch boxes or bags - just books and pencils/pens etc.

Other schools supply their own workbooks which are paid with school fees.

For the rest I do get stuff cheap when I'm doing other shopping.

They take their own fabric lunch wraps and bottles are not required - thats what fountains are for although there is an element of upmarketness that do conform to trends. (Why is it that kids have to be 'different' by all being exactly the same!)

viv in nz


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