10 Ways Thrifty People Save Money On Back To School Shopping

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Are school supplies and back to school clothing putting a strain on your budget year after year? Stop the money drain with these 10 ways to save money on back to school shopping.

Save money on all your back to school shopping from school supplies to clothing needs.

 

Our children go to a small private school two days a week and are homeschooled the other three days a week, but that doesn’t mean they need any fewer school supplies each year. Thankfully I am able to apply a lot of my best thrifty tips for living on less to back to school shopping to help shrink the cost of those supplies.

10 Ways Thrifty People Save Money On Back To School Shopping

1. Make A List

If your school is like the one my children attend, they probably send you a handy email with a downloadable supply list inside– make sure to print it out. On the back side of that list write down what your kids need beyond those supplies, things like new shoes, socks, sweatshirts, and school uniform items if your school requires them.

A few notes on how we decided what clothing items are needed for back to school.

To make a complete back to school wardrobe list I have each child dump every item of clothing they own on my bed and then we go over each and every item together. Does this item still fit? Sometimes if I don’t believe the answer to this question I will have them try it on–especially my sentimental child who wants to keep every article of clothing that sparks memories. Is the item in good condition? If it has stains or rips it goes straight in the trash. I know I am not the world’s best stain removal wizard and I don’t have time to mend. Do they still like wearing the item? If not and it passed the stain and rip test it goes into a box for the thrift store.

Once we have our pile of items that is staying we sort it into t-shirts, long sleeve tops, sweatshirts, shorts, jeans, etc so that we can see where there are wardrobe holes. I aim for four of each type of clothing item, that seems to be the magic number in our home to avoid the ‘Oh, no! I have nothing clean!” morning panic. If the child has less than four, we decide together what colors would work best with what they already have and add that article of clothing and suggested colors to our list.

I then divide the list into items they need right away and items that can wait. So if they need t-shirts we will get them right away since it is warm when they start school, but if they need a new winter coat then that can wait until cooler weather arrives, allowing me more time to find a great bargain. I store their lists in a zippered pocket in my purse so I have them with me at all times to refer to when I find deeply discounted clothing items in their size.

2. Shop Your Home First

Chances are you have a few items lying around your house that could be on that school supply list you printed off. Perhaps you bought a few extras last year just in case, or there are other items that were barely used. If so, don’t rebuy them; use what you have.

I know that might be hard to hear for some. After all there is a certain thrill as a child to going to school the first day with all new supplies, but is it really worth it? How long does that thrill last? I am guessing it dies by the end of the first week of school.

Teach your children instead to be wise stewards of money and the environment by using up supplies they already own. I am not saying they have to go to school with pencils with only an inch left or erasers that are as big as a pinky fingernail. But if the pencil was sharpened and used once and the eraser still looks like new, use them up this year and pocket the savings.

  10 Ways Thrifty People Save Money On Back To School Shopping

3. Buy Quality Where It Counts

My middle child is a senior in high school this year and he is going to go to school with a backpack he has used already for all three years of high school and it will probably make it to his very last day of this fourth and final year of high school.

The backpack is a Swiss Gear backpack (very similar to this model) bought on clearance one January for another purpose and then put away for school.  I paid about $5 more for it than a cheap version would be. That $5 difference has paid me back again and again. As of today after three years of constant use only one small accessory strap has fallen off. Other than that it is in perfect working order.  My daughter has the same brand in a different color, and her’s is now in its second year of use.

I find the same applies for binders, I bought my son several Five Star brand binders (like this one) his first year of high school and he is still using them going into his fourth year.

At home we use better quality pencils (this is our favorite brand), erasers and pens because I know they will last longer. However, I don’t send them to school with them because I have learned the hard way that my children are very absent minded with little items, meaning they get misplaced long before they get used up. Knowing this I send them to school with less expensive brands.

4. Shop Sales Or At Least Go To The Store Known For Lowest Prices

I only buy supplies for two children so I don’t do the school supply sales game where you go to store after store grabbing the lowest priced items at each one. If you have more children to buy for I can see it being worth your time. I suggest you follow the site Money Saving Mom during the back to school shopping season. The site does a great job of listing where you will find the lowest prices on school supplies.

What I do is simply head to the one store that I know has in general the lowest prices for school supplies overall in my town and I buy them there. I might not save the most money, but I also save time that I could spend on other money making or money saving ventures. You personally need to decide which approach would work best for your family and your financial situation.

41 Websites and Apps Thrifty People Use & Love

5. Use Cash Back Sites & Apps

Even though I don’t store hop for school supplies I will open up every cash back app and site I can think of to see if perhaps I can get a bit of money back on my purchase.

If I am shopping online I check these three sites to see who is offering a cash back deal on the store I am about to shop at. If several of them offer a cash back, I check to see which one is offering the highest rate.

The smartphone apps I use most often for savings in store (some do offer online savings too)

  • ibotta–Does rebates for both in-store and online shopping. Great selection of stores!
  • Shopkick–Earn points just for walking into the store
  • Receipt Hog–You don’t earn a lot using Receipt Hog, but it is so simple to use.

6. Consider Buying Secondhand

When I mention considering secondhand items to fullfill your back to school shopping list I am not talking about just clothing items. I have bought my children like-new binders at yard sales as well as report folders, pencil cases and more at a fraction of retail costs.

Secondhand clothing will save you even more money, though. I personally find yard sale clothing to be the least expensive, but it is also very hit and miss as to whether you will find what you are looking for. If you want to save money and you are short on time I would head to the biggest thrift store in your area.

You can also shop for secondhand clothing online. I have personally used Thredup dozens of times with good success, I make sure to check  the “like new” and “new with tags” option to ensure good quality. You can get $10 off your first order at ThredUp when you use my referral link (these words highlighted in blue are it). If you like name brand items I think you will like what you find at ThredUp. They have all sizes from infants through to adult.

10 Ways Thrifty People Save Money On Back To School Shopping

7. Buy Ahead When You Find Deeply Discounted Items

You know that every year you are going to need pencils, pens, erasers and paper so why not stock up if you see some deeply discounted a few months after school starts? Place these items in a plastic tote with a lid so they won’t get beaten up. Next time back to school season comes up you have a jump start on shopping.

8. Use Discounted Gift Cards

Discounted gift cards can save you anywhere from 1% to as much as 20% or more on your shopping, but you do have to think ahead. I usually pass unless I can save 5% or more. Our family likes using the company Cardpool, but there are others out there. A good site to use to help you get the best deal on discounted gift cards is Gift Card Granny. You simply sign up for an account and then you can start searching for the gift card you want and it will show you all the places offering that gift card at a discount.

The key to using discounted gift cards wisely to save money is to only buy them for stores you shop at often and always for a little less than you plan to spend. That way you are not stuck with a bunch of gift cards for places you either won’t shop at in the next 12 months or with less than a dollar on them.

10 Ways Thrifty People Save Money On Back To School Shopping

9. Keep Track Of What You Spend

Each and every year keep track of what you spent on school supplies. Use that information to create a budget for the next year. To be on the safe side always add about 10% to the amount you actually spend for next year’s budget to allow for rising prices or a change in supply list.

10. Earn Gift Cards For Things To Help You With Next Year’s Shopping

Did you know that there are companies that will give you points for searching the web through their search bars, or for printing and using coupons, or shopping online? You can then cash those points in for gift cards. These are all actions you probably already do for free so why not get paid to do them? One company that does this is Swagbucks. I have used them for years. Swagbucks makes it simple for everyone to earn anywhere from $5 to $25 or more each month without changing their online habits all that much. Simply download their search bar and use it instead of your current search engine.

Sign up for Swagbucks using my referral link | Snail Pace Transformations

Hope these tips help! Do you have any to add?

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Thrifty and Thriving: More Life for Less Money is not your typical “how to save money” book. It does not list 25 ways to save on food or 10 ways to decrease your electric bill. Instead, it shares more than 40 key practices and principles that thrifty families use every day. Get your copy here. Available in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.

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15 Books That Will Set You Up For Work-At-Home Success

(post contains affiliate links: see disclosure)

Do you want to work-at-home, but are unsure how to make it all work? Or perhaps you already started a work-at-home job, but you are struggling to juggle it plus housework, family relationships, and still having a bit of time to refuel yourself.

Don’t despair–there are things you can do that will set you up for work-at-home success. I too was once a young mom desperately wanting to stay home with my children, but knowing that I too had to work somehow if our family was going to get out of debt and stay out of debt. I knew the answer was a work-at-home job, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to juggle it. How did I work, keep our home from looking like a cyclone hit it, keep meals on the table that didn’t always come out of a paper bag, and still have time for my children and husband?

Want to successfully work-at-home? These books can help.

After all, my primary desire for becoming a stay-at-home mom was to spend more time with my kids. If I took on a work-at-home job, how did I do that without sitting them in front of a screen for hours while I tried to get my work-at-home and homemaking tasks done?

The answer came from my favorite source of information–books. I read dozens of books on homemaking, time management, housekeeping, goal setting and I took notes. When I applied what I learned I discovered that I could carve out enough time to work two to three hours a day even when the kids were very little to work at home for pay (because as we all know moms at home are always working whether they get paid or not).

Now that my children are 15 and up I have much more time on my hands to work for pay, do household chores, spend quality time one on one with each child, date my hubby, and dabble in my favorite passions such as running and knitting. And I have the books I read over the years to thank for that (well that and the fact that older children can pitch in with housework a lot more than younger children and they sleep through the night)!

My hope is this list of books will help you too to organize your days in such a way that you find you can work at home without your home life becoming overwhelmingly chaotic.

15 Books That Will Set You Up For Work-At-Home Success

15 Books That Will Set You Up For Work-At-Home Success

Time Management

1.The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

This book will help you hone in on the one goal “thing” you need to keep above all other goals in order to make the most impact in your home-based business.

2. How to Handle 1,000 Things at Once: A Fun Guide to Mastering Home & Personal Management

Although written many years ago the time management wisdom in How To Handle 1000 Things at Once is still relevant in today’s world. In fact, this is one book I re-read every few years because each time I do I glean a few new skills that help me juggle all my different mom hats a bit better.

3. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

This book helped me dump a few things off my to-do list that really were unnecessary. It also helped me realize I needed to delegate house cleaning tasks to my kids more than I already was. I don’t think that was a side effect the author thought of when he wrote Essentialism, but it was what I ended up doing as a result of reading the book and doing so gained me hours to work on my business and taught my kids some valuable life lessons.

 

15 Books That Will Set You Up For Work-At-Home Success

Inspiration

4. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

I just recently finished Start With Why. The book is filled with inspiring stories of great business men and women and how their approach to business is what made them successful. Learn to answer why instead of how and watch you and your customers become inspired.

5. Money-Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make a Difference

Learning the story of Crystal Paine and how she began blogging thinking she would just make enough to cover a few living expenses and ended up creating one of the largest blogs in North America will inspire you to realize that you might be small now, but with hard work and a “stick to it” attitude your business could grow bigger than you ever thought possible.

15 Books That Will Set You Up For Work-At-Home Success

Life Balance

6. The Fringe Hours: Making Time For You

Just because you are both a stay-at-home mom and a work-at-home mom doesn’t mean you don’t have time to spend on yourself. In fact, if you want to do both roles well you need to make time to refuel your tanks so you can help refill theirs with attention and love. However, making time for you isn’t as hard as you might think. The book The Fringe Hours will show you precious minutes each day you are probably wasting that could easily be turned into personal refueling time.

7. The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands

Guilt can make us say yes so often that we end up filling our days with tasks instead of cuddles with our little ones and errands instead of work. The Best Yes will help you set the right priorities for you and your family and set firm boundaries around them.

15 Books That Will Set You Up For Work-At-Home Success

Networking

8. How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships

Warning: some of the language in How To Talk To Anyone is outdated. However, the tips are a goldmine for those who struggle to start meaningful conversations with people who could have a positive effect on your at-home business. How To Talk To Anyone will help you start conversations with potential customers as well as your fellow work-at-home coworkers. And oh, how we need to talk to others who do that same work as us–it keeps one sane.

15 Books That Will Set You Up For Work-At-Home Success

Homemaking

9. Plan It, Don’t Panic

Meal time happens three times a day, and snacks happen two to three times a day–all that meal prep and eating can take up a huge chunk of our days. Minimize that chunk by implementing the meal planning ideas found in Plan It, Don’t Panic.

10. Clutter’s Last Stand: It’s Time To De-junk Your Life!

The more things we own, the more time we spend maintaining them, cleaning them, rearranging them, and so on. Reduce your stuff and you will gain time to work. The book Clutter’s Last Stand will inspire you to toss, toss, and toss some more.

11. Sink Reflections: Overwhelmed? Disorganized? Living in Chaos? Discover the Secrets That Have Changed the Lives of More Than Half a Million Families…

Cleaning routines can cut your time spent cleaning drastically. First, you don’t have to spend time thinking about what needs to be done because it is just part of your routine to do it. Second, it doesn’t take as long to clean when things are being cleaned regularly. Use the book Sink Reflections to create cleaning routines for your home. Don’t forget to get those kids helping you with them!

15 Books That Will Set You Up For Work-At-Home Success

Goal Setting

12. 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life

Most people know how to set a goal, but few know how to break it down in a way that can help them achieve it. If that is you, read 21 Days To A More Disciplined Life and learn how to break your business and life goals down into manageable chunks.

13. 5 Habits Of A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit

Are you trying to figure out why you always quit on your goals? Then 5 Habits Of A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit should be on your reading list. Figure out why you quit all the time and how to stop doing it.

 

15 Books That Will Set You Up For Work-At-Home Success

Customer Relations

14. Fred 2.0: New Ideas on How to Keep Delivering Extraordinary Results

People remember business owners and workers that went above and beyond what was expected. Learn how to implement wow factor into your business with Fred 2.o.

15. Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers

One quote that has stuck with me from this book for over a year now is “You get further with relationship than interruption.” Are your business tactics interrupting your customer’s day or are they building a relationship? If you are not sure, read Permission Marketing.

I divided up the book list into elements and struggles of work-at-home moms so you can pick a book from the area you are currently struggling with most at the moment. So pick out your title and start tackling your work-at-home problems–you’ve got this! Apply what you learn and watch your work-at-home success grow.

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Do You Prefer To Learn From Videos?

I recommend taking Make Over Your Mornings and/or Make Over Your Evenings. These are 15 day, video driven courses that come with a workbook for you to complete. Each day’s lesson consists of a five-minute video, five minutes of reading and a five-minute workbook activity.

These two video driven courses will help you better manage your days! They help me find an extra half an hour.

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How To Get Awesome Courses To Grow Your Blog Dirt Cheap

(post contains affiliate links: see disclosure)

Do you want to learn how improve your blog, but your budget is tight? What if there was a way to get blog courses that will grow your blog without spending a fortune? Well, thankfully there is one.

Learn how to grow your blog on a small budget. Great tips on how to get good blog courses for dirt cheap.

How To Get Awesome Courses To Grow Your Blog Dirt Cheap

Where YouTube, Blog Posts, and Podcasts Fall Short

Before I tell you exactly where to find blog courses to grow your blog for dirt cheap, let me explain why you’re missing out if you depend 100% on free sources of teaching to grow your blog. After all, there are a ton of YouTube videos, blog posts, and podcasts that cost nothing and offer lots of great free information to grow your blog.

I used that free content for years, but I started noticing a huge downfall. Free content tends to be short so it either covers just one small part of a topic, or it barely scratches the surface of a subject. Meaning you need to find a lot of different blog posts, YouTube videos and podcasts to get enough information to truly go another step further in whatever aspect of blogging you are trying to improve in. Or you learn just enough to get started and spend a lot of time learning the rest through trial and error.

In either scenario TIME is the key factor in using free blog training content successfully. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have that kind of time, and yet I don’t have the money for expensive blog courses either. Instead, I use the strategies listed below to get great blog courses for either free or dirt cheap.

How To Get Awesome Courses To Grow Your Blog Dirt Cheap

A Few Sources For Blog Courses That Cost Just Your Email Address

Mini Email Courses

There are many “How To Blog” bloggers out there who offer a mini course for the price of only your email address–in other words, you sign up for their email list, and they will send you the mini course free of charge. I have taken several now and found some to be very lacking in depth, but others are a gold mine of information!

I spent a few minutes while researching this post Googling “free ______ courses” (fill in the blank with Pinterest, Facebook, blogging, twitter, etc.) and found that with each search I did numerous free courses came up. These courses are more lengthy than blog posts, but as I said it is hit or miss as to whether you get depth or fluff.

Webinars

If I see an interesting Webinar that covers an area of blogging I want to improve in I usually will sign up. The only cost is my email address and a bit of time. I rarely watch them live (they generally don’t work with my schedule), but I will view the replay. I know within about five minutes if the Webinar host gave away useful free content during the webinar or if it was one huge sales pitch. I usually get great blog growing advice 50% of the time and the other 50% of the time I just end up exiting out at the five-minute mark.

Now although these two free sources of blog courses can be great, they are still really hit and miss, which means I am still wasting my time now and then.

How To Get Awesome Courses To Grow Your Blog Dirt Cheap

How To Get The Information For Dirt Cheap–Without Wasting Time

If you have a small amount of money to invest in your blog and you’d rather not spend time signing up for and flipping through free courses and webinars to see if they will tell you something you don’t know, then blogging course bundle sales are your answer. For less than the average cost of one blogging course, you can get dozens! 

Two Annual Blogging Course Bundle Sales

BC Stack

The BC Stack sale is put on by Blogging Concentrated (that is what the BC stands for) This year it cost just $27 and had over 65 products, many of which were full-length eCourses on topics to help you grow your blog in numbers and income. This year’s happened in July – Join my weekly email list to be notified when it is available again.

The Genius Blogger’s Toolkit Bundle

I grabbed a copy of The Genius Blogger’s Toolkit Bundle last November and I plan to grab the 2017 version when it is released later this fall.  Join my weekly email list to be notified when it is available again. This bundle is priced right around the $100 mark, but it is 100 percent worth that price as it contains thousands of dollars of worth of valuable courses from top bloggers.

What You Need To Know About Bundle Sales Before You Buy

To Make Sure The Bundle Is Worth It For You Personally, Do This

Before heading to a Blogging Courses Bundle Sale Homepage grab a pen and a piece of paper. Write down three to five areas of blogging you want to improve in. Then click on over to the homepage and read through each course description. Take time to write down the ones that you feel would help you in those three to five areas of blogging you wrote down.

Did you list come to more than three? If so, then chances are you are going to save money buying the bundle. Sometimes all you need is one course!

Some Courses In The Bundle Won’t Be A Great Fit

If it seems like most of the courses in the bundle are not a great fit, that doesn’t mean it isn’t still a good deal for you. As long as the sale prices of the courses that are a good fit equal less than the price of the entire bundle, you come out ahead.

However, it is entirely possible that you can get into a bundle and the course you thought would be super helpful ends up being a dud. This happened to me in the Genius Bloggers Bundle I bought, but then I found a course worth more than the price of the bundle that turned out to be pure gold in helping me with my social media that somehow I overlooked when I was looking at purchasing the bundle. So the dud was soon replaced with a real gem.

Some Courses Will Rock Your Blogging World And Make The Entire Bundle Worth It

So far three eBooks and two eCourses in the last bundle I bought have helped me grow my blog in specific ways. These five products would have been $369 if purchased separately, but I paid under $100 for the entire bundle with plenty more products to dig into that have potential to help me grow my blog.

How To Get Awesome Courses To Grow Your Blog Dirt Cheap

What You Need To Do After You Buy A Bundle To Get Your Money’s Worth And More

Download, Sign-up And Redeem Codes For All The Courses You Are Interested In

Usually bundles come with an expiry date–meaning you have a certain time period to get your stuff. However, once you download, sign-up or redeem codes generally you have access to those courses you bought for as long as you want.

I like to mark the expiry date of the bundle on my calendar and circle it so that I see it days in advance, causing me to take action before my access expires.

Make A Priority List Of  The Courses And Schedule Class Time

After purchasing bundles set aside 10-15 minutes to go through the entire bundle again, making a priority list for the courses and eBooks as you do. With a list of what courses you want to take first look at your calendar and start scheduling in class time.

I like to spend Sunday afternoons either on the couch or my front porch swing (depending on the weather) curled up with my laptop in front of me, a glass of sweet tea by my side and a notebook and pen in hand. I then attack a course for several hours at a time.

Create A Google Drive Folder For Access Codes And Notes

For each bundle I buy I make a folder in Google Drive labeled the bundle name and the year. Then each time I sign up for a new course, I create a new document within the folder and label it the class name. On that document I put the link to the course, my password, and when I complete the course I type in some of the notes I took on the course, and at least three action steps the course has inspired me to take and a deadline to implement them. After all, taking a great blog course won’t grow your blog, but implementing a great blog course will.

Have you ever bought a bundle of blogging courses before? If so do you have any additional advice to add to my list?

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