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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.

More by this author

Sarah White

Freelance Writer, Editor, Professional Crafter

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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