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Marion Syversen Marion Syversen
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Back to school shopping

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Everyone is facing the same joy and dread of back to school and all the joys and hassles that accompany this time of transition.

One of the tasks for this time of year is preparing the wee ones with proper clothing and needed additional materials. This could mean anything from technology to undies. If you are running out of creative ways to stretch your budget, maybe these ideas will help.

  1. 1.) Take an inventory - Set aside an appropriate amount of time to completely look through what the kids have: clothes, shoes, boots, outwear, paper, notebooks, pencils, everything. (You may want to properly prepare by pouring yourself a cold adult beverage.) Another way to tackle this job with energy may be to enlist a buddy to work with you. If they help you, you'll go to their house and perform the same task so neither of you has to swim alone.

The goal here isfind a way to tackle this job, be organized and have fun. I don't want you to feel overwhelmed as you open the bedroom door and potentially face the clutter monster. But the bottom line? Taking an inventory will save you money because you won't buy something when you don't even need it. You will know what fits, the items that will be helpful, what might be needed and what can you donate.

  1. 2.) Make a list- Now that you know what you have, you can determine what may be needed. And of course, you can work with your budget. Remember, please, no matter what your income, everyone has a finite amount of money. At this time of year we are all thinking of creative ways to find the time to get all this shopping done and stay inside of our budgets.

The added ingredient always involves the student themselves and their expectations. I have written about great ideas for making them part of the shopping process in previous back-to-school columns. Suffice it to say that the more you get them involved, let them have a say in how they'd like to see the money allocated, help them understand the maximum budget and the list of needs and wants, the smoother is this process.

Tip: remember you may be able to stretch the budget by buying things later, having the kid pitch in with their own money, buying second hand and buying in bulk with friends.

  1. 3.) Have a party! Here's an idea that you might fancy. Set up an exchange party with friends. It is exactly as it sounds: you all bring clothing and other school supplies and have a free swap event. It's like going shopping but with no money changing hands. Each person brings items inperfectorvery good conditionto exchange with one another. They may be things that don't fit, that your child never liked. But it must be stain-free and intact (no tears). However many items you bring and trade are the same amount that you get to take home.

You may want to be selective in who you include as you know there are folks who may not play according to the rules and that would make things awkward. But when this works, it is a bonanza.

Everyone is facing the crunch of stretching their finite money for growing kids' needs. Have a strategy that includes making this fun, and it will be the beginning of a beautiful school year!

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