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Shelves of Glue

Is your wallet ready for back to school shopping?

Summer is almost over and its time to think about returning to school for millions of students.

Those jeans little Johnny wore last year have shrunk up to his knees and the duct tape has worn off his backpack.

That means its time to start your back to school shopping. No doubt you’ve already been bombarded by back to school advertisements from the media.

Back to school shopping is a big money maker, second only to Christmas. Back to school shopping can make a big dent in the budget if you’re not careful, in fact the average family with kids K-12 will spend $688.62 according to a NRF survey.

I’ll share a few ideas to save money during this back to school shopping season, so you’ll have extra cash for their college accounts.

Back to School Shopping Savings

Shop Tax Free Days– Most states have back to school shopping dates where you don’t pay taxes. How great is that? See if your state has a sales tax holiday.

Shopping Lists– Schools will have lists of items you’ll need to buy from the individual teachers or a general school list. Some schools might even have them online. Use the lists to buy what you need

If you need a sample list check these sample back to school shopping list:

K-5 Class Supply List from El Oro Way Elementary

6-8 Suggest Class Supply List from Sequoia Middle School

K-12 from Real Simple. For high school it depends on the classes they take, so check with their specific teacher.

Wants vs. Needs- Teach your child to separate needs from wants when shopping for school supplies. They want a new calculator, but their one from last year will do just fine if your family is on a tight budget.

Make a Budget– Have each child help make the budget along with their school supplies list. What a great chance to teach financial literary!

This will alleviate many arguments and disagreements in the store since they helped make the budget themselves. When the money runs out, it runs out unless they want to add money for other items.

Bulk Buying– When I was a teacher I gave bonus points for boxes of tissue. If you have multiple children, you can save a lot of money by buying some items in bulk. Just check the cost per item to ensure you’re getting a good deal.

Thrift Stores and Yard Sales– You can find many items at yard sales and thrift stores, including clothes. Your tweens or teens might find that shopping for vintage clothing at thrift stores is actually more fun than buying off the rack clothes, not to mention easier on the budgets they helped to create.

Vintage and 80’s are in style if you’re not up with the latest trends. See more back to school fashion trends for 2012-13 school year.

Free School Supplies– Many different types of groups assist with the high cost of back to school supplies. Try these different sources for free back to school supplies for low income or families in need.

  • Local Companies- Check with local businesses for free back to school supplies.
  • Local Churches- Many churches in urban cities offer assistance.
  • Government agencies may offer back to school fairs or assistance. Local fire and police departements often have school supply drives for low income families.
  • Local Nonprofits: United Way, YMCA , The Salvation Army and many others offer supplies.

Back to School Immunizations– Make sure your child’s shot records are up to date per state requirements. Some communities offer free health fairs for back to to school immunizations or consult your pediatrician about other low cost options if your insurance doesn’t cover these shots.

Back to school shopping doesn’t have to break the bank if you plan properly. Just remember a good education will help them win scholarships and ensure they won’t come back to live with you later in life!

How do you prepare for back to school shopping? Do you have any tips for back to school shopping savings?

Photo Credit Chelsea Oakes (Creative Commons).

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Can banks be large and act small?

We are free! Yes, we’re  finally free of the clutches of yet another bank. We’re one step closer to 100% online banking. Seems we’re not alone in that 8.7% will switch banks this year according to a J.D. Powers study (March 2011).

In this recent study by J.D. Powers it states why people are leaving:

“For customers evaluating and ultimately selecting a new bank, the most important factors driving their decision are advertising; branch convenience; products and services; promotional offers; and direct and indirect customer experience (including past personal interactions, recommendations and bank reputation.)”

We personally choose to leave our brick and mortar bank for several reasons:

  1. Fees for ATM usage and fees for direct downloads in software besides Quicken.
  2. Poor customer service, especially during a recent merger.
  3. Near 0 % interest on our savings account. Seriously I don’t think we earned even a penny on $1000.
  4. Involvement in the mortgage crisis and bailout.
  5. Threat of fees for debit card usage. This was the last straw!

Why did it take us so long to change over to online checking?

Mainly it was the hassle of changing over our direct deposits and automatic withdrawals. It wasn’t really that bad, but it did take several weeks to complete the process.

What did we gain from our online banking account?

  1. No ATM fees.
  2. Great customer service and easy to use online system.
  3. Much better Savings rate and also interest earned for our checking account.
  4. 100% Free checking.

We also took the chance to leave Quicken and start using iBank4 for mac.

Here are the steps we took to change banks:

  1. Opened a new online checking account with small deposit.
  2. Made a list of all our Direct Deposit and automatic withdrawals and began to work down the list; making sure our new checking account always had a positive balance and we didn’t incur any low balance fees with our old bank. This took several weeks as paperwork was lost at one life insurance company.
  3. After we were certain all the changes were complete, we closed the account. It took 7-10 business days and were mailed a cashiers check for the remaining funds.

Have you switched banks recently? What caused you to make the change?

(Photo by GravityX9)

Used Car Sign

Used Car pic by GmanViz

So you’re in the market for a used car? Of course you are since you know that new cars loose their value once you drive them off the lot. I hope you’re paying cash…right? We are still driving our paid for used car with low miles and we don’t care what people think! If you know L.A. culture it’s all about how you look and appear to others.



Good links for buying used cars:

Any good links or sources you’ve used to buy used cards?