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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 November 19, 2019

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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