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8 Ways to Spend Less on Back-to-School Shopping

8 Ways to Spend Less on Back-to-School Shopping

Back-to-school shopping is an inevitable part of life for people with kids. Between school supplies, backpacks, new clothes and other necessities, the costs can really add up, especially if you have more than one child. These tips will help you save money where you can so your kids can have a great back-to-school experience without breaking the bank.

1. Shop Consignment Sales

Where I live, there are several great consignment sales throughout the year that offer gently used clothing for kids of all ages at greatly reduced prices. This works best for younger kids who aren’t brand-loyal, but with some hunting you can even find things that older kids will be happy with (you may need to play up that buying used is eco-friendly, or head to a vintage shop to make buying used more fun for older kids).

Consignment shops and thrift stores can also be a great source of clothing. Like your favorites on Facebook and they’ll let you know when the super-bargain days are. One shop here has days where everything is half off, which means you can score some really excellent deals.

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2. Get it Tax Free

Many states have tax-free weekends where you can buy clothing and school supplies without having to pay sales tax. Yes, you’ll have to fight everyone else who’s shopping on those precious days, but if you’re the sort of person who likes the Black Friday spirit, you can score some good deals.

Some stores have special sales on tax-free weekends, making it even more worth your while to head out.

3. Comparison Shop

Everyone from superstores to the grocery store to the dollar store seems to sell school supplies at back-to-school time, and they often have a couple of items that are really cheap. If you have time to go to several stores, you can score the best deals at each one—nabbing the 10 cent crayons at one place and the two for a dollar notebooks elsewhere.

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If that’s not an option for you, investigate if any of the stores do price matching, where you can bring in an ad from another store and get their low price where you are shopping. That can save you a lot of time and effort (not to mention gas money).

4. Sign up for Emails or Like Shops on Facebook

If you’re looking for clothing deals, sign up for emails and like you favorite shops on Facebook. Then you’ll know when the things you need are on sale and when new clearance items are added. It may be worth it to wait a couple of weeks into the school year to buy some items if they’re likely to be on sale in the new future.

5. Stock up at Clearance Sales

Speaking of sales, the end-of-summer sales and clearance racks that are regular fixtures at some stores can be your best friends. Summer stuff goes on sale long before the winter stuff is needed, so you can buy some new things that can be used right away. Or shop when the clothing is a little off-season if you can predict what size your child might be the next time that season rolls around. I’ve bought clothing marked down to a couple of dollars or less because it was deep in the wrong season.

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6. Don’t Buy Too Much

It’s really tempting, especially when you’re getting a good deal, to buy a ton of new stuff, but if your kid isn’t likely to go through more than two boxes of crayons in a year, it’s a waste of money to buy more. What’s more, you’ll have to find a place to store it in the meantime, remember where you put it when it is needed and so on. It’s not really worth it to go off-list or buy duplicates of things that aren’t likely to be used in the near future.

7. Use What You Have

If you are the sort of person who tends to buy too much, make sure you check the house for items your child could use before you shop. I buy a ton of notebooks every year, and there are usually some left over, for instance. You may also find that some of last year’s clothing, like jeans and sweaters, may still be useable if your child hasn’t grown too much. Shop at home first.

8. Personalize What You Can

If some of those old clothes fit fine but aren’t looking great, think about how you might alter them to make them better than new. You can add patches to cover holes or stains, add embroidery, dye shirts, or if you have some sewing skills, even turn a dress into a skirt or take in the sides of a boxy shirt to make it more form-fitting.

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Likewise with the school supplies: washi tape is cheap and makes everything cuter.

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Sarah White

Freelance Writer, Editor, Professional Crafter

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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