Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Back to School Savings Strategies

According to the National Retail Federation, average back-to-school spending has grown 42 percent over the past 10 years. To help you combat the budget-busting burden of school-related expenses, we offer the following savings strategies:

1.  Save on clothing for school
Clothing can be a big expense when your kids are going back to school. These tips will help you keep costs manageable:
  • Take stock: Before you purchase any new clothing, take an inventory of your child’s current clothes for the school year. Figure out what still fits, what is still in good shape, and what should be donated or thrown away. This may mean pulling out the boxes of winter clothes before the weather turns cold, but that extra effort could save you hundreds of dollars down the line.
  • Save with hand-me-downs: While new clothes are fun for the kids, you can save a ton by tapping into your inventory. Any clothes that are too small but still in good condition can be handed down to one of your younger children.
  • Host a clothes-swap party: You can expand your clothing options and get rid of unwanted items by hosting a party to exchange your inventory with parents in your neighborhood, church, or other social group.
  • Consider secondhand shops: New clothes at a retail store can cost ten times more than those purchased from a secondhand store or consignment shop.
2.  Save on school supplies
The inevitable school supplies can be cheaper with these smart tips:
  • Ask for discounts: Many brands or stores give big discounts to students, particularly those in college. This article from Business Insider lists students discounts for retailers ranging from Amazon to the Apple Store.
  • Bulk buy: If you can swing it financially, buying school supplies in bulk at your local warehouse store can lead to big savings in the long run. If you don’t need a whole ream of printer paper or a 12-pack of notebooks, split the supplies - and the cost - with fellow parents.
3.  Save on school lunches
Food costs can add up if you aren't careful, but there are steps you can take to reduce the daily price of school lunch:
  • Ask about free lunch: The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) gives out 19.2 million free lunches each day, so check to see if your family qualifies for free lunches. 
  • Consider buying: Don’t assume that it’s cheaper to make a lunch than to buy one. According to statistics for one school system, you can save about $1.83 per day, or $329/year, if your child buys a school lunch instead of bringing one from home. However, that changes when you buy in bulk, by purchasing and preparing homemade lunches for four kids instead of one.
  • Research the best options: Check out the ChooseMyPlate.gov website, featuring food purchasing and meal preparation tips to help you serve nutritional and affordable meals for your family. The Healthy Eating on a Budget section is especially helpful.
4.  Save on prescriptions
Kids going back to school often get sick. If this happens and your doctor prescribes medication for your child, you can save an average of 42 percent by using the free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card:

  • Get the card: Just print out a FamilyWize card (or use the online form to request one be mailed to you) on our site, show it to your pharmacist when picking up your prescription, and ask for the lowest price.
  • Use the app: The FamilyWize smartphone app works the same as the card, and allows you to instantly start saving up to 75 percent on your prescriptions. It also lets you easily compare drug prices at virtually any pharmacy in your area by using the Drug Price Lookup.
To download the FamilyWize app, search in your app store for “FamilyWize,” or follow these links to the Apple App Store,  Google Play, or the Windows Store.

Live Healthy. Live Smart.
Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

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