How to Create an After School Schedule

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There is a lot of great information out there to help make your morning routine go more smoothly (we’ve even got one HERE).  However, what about after school?  The kids come bursting through the door and seems that chaos begins.  There are shoes, backpacks, homework, snacks…..and and can quickly drive mom insane!

The trick is to create a routine.  When you have a routine, everyone knows what to do and can help keep a good rhythm running in your house.  Of course, you may need to tailor this to each child, depending up on age an maturity.  Even my own kids are different and so the way I run our routine differs a bit for each of them.

No matter your child’s age, there are things each of them can do.  For us it is simple,  they have 3 things they need to do the minute they walk into the door:

  1. Place your backpack where it belongs.  For us it is the bench in the entryway, so that I can go through them to get out papers and things I need.  As they get older, they will have to take out those things and then hang it up.
  2. Place your shoes next to the bench so they are ready for the next day.  We don’t have our kids put tennies in their rooms during the week.  This is one thing we do right away, which helps us the following day!
  3. Grab a snack.  We have a snack basket, filled with “mom approved” snacks, for them to tackle.  This helps mom by not having to take the time to get them a snack, while making sure they are eating something which I say is OK (I will post more about a snack basket soon).

Once these things are done, I allow my kids at least 30 minutes of free time.  That can be playing with toys, watching a TV show or playing with an electronic.  My oldest has Karate, which runs on a set schedule.  This is part of her routine and she knows that she has to put her uniform on at 5 pm on those evenings, so we can get out the door shortly after Dad gets home.

After they have their free time, they have to do their chores.  These are simple things such as picking up their rooms (as needed), putting away the clean clothes on their bed or helping mom with other little tasks.  We want our kids to know that they have to contribute to running our household – mom is not here to serve them.

We have dinner between 5:30 and 6:00 pm every night.  Part of our routine is 3 kids – so 3 chores.  We rotate between:  setting the table, clearing the table and loading the dishwasher.  They know that Mom (or sometimes Dad) cooks the meal and they have to be a part of that in some way.    By having dinner a bit earlier, we are alway done with it all by 6:30 pm, which allows time for other tasks.

If your children bring homework home with them, a good time to do this is right after dinner is done and the dishes are washed.  They’ve already had their “down time” so they can now focus on homework and studies.  We have our kids do this in their rooms, where it is quiet and they can focus.  Of course, there are times when the kitchen table works better, so we just turn off the television so that it is quiet and they can concentrate and quickly get their work done.

Bath time is another things our kids do every night.  A bath helps them relax and washes off all of that dirt and grime they’ve picked up on the school bus and playground.  We usually try to do baths by 7:00 each evening.  This again, gives our kids a chance to have a few more minutes of playtime before they hear the “B” word — BEDTIME!!!

While they do go to bed when we tell them to, they don’t always like it.  Our youngest kids still love a story at bedtime.  For that reason, they have to head up to bed at 7:45 so they can go to the bathroom, brush their teeth and have time for that story.  It is lights out at 8 pm.   Our oldest is allowed to stay up until 9 pm, but we have her go up a few minutes early so that she too can brush her teeth before climbing into bed.

Of course, if you are mom who works out of the home, you will have to make adjustments as you may not walk through the door with everyone until 5:30.  If you find you get home a bit later, you can just pick up from dinnertime noted above through bedtime.  You can have your kids do their chores while you are fixing dinner, so that once you are through eating, you can move into homework, baths and bed.

Whatever you do, try to set a regular routine for your kids.  They need to know what comes next and it really helps reduce stress (and even tears)!

 

Ten Fun Ways to Celebrate Back to School (Great for Homeschooling Parents Too)!

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Back to School time can be fun and thrilling for kids and parents alike.  It can also be stressful and scary for your kids as well.   Not everyone is ready to make the transition back to school.  There are some things you can do to make this time of year FUN for your kids!  Here are ten ideas you can do celebrate the time of year.

1.  Have One Last Blast of Summer Party.  Invited friends and family over and get outside.  Have ice cream, frozen treats and enjoy the end of summer.

2.  Make notes for lunches / pack a special treat.  Sometimes it is hard to let go of mom.  Sending encouraging notes in your child’s lunch box can be just what they need to get through the rest of the day.

3.  Have a special back to school breakfast.  On the first day of classes, make breakfast extra special.   Make your child’s favorite breakfast, make a fun place settings to mark the day.

4.  Take a photo.  We’ve take pictures of our kids on the first day of school, just like most.  However, why not let your kids take a picture of YOU!?  They will love the chance to capture mom or dad on this occasion too.

5.  Create a countdown board.  Use posterboard and staple papers with numbers on them.  Each day, let your kids pull off the prior day’s number.  When it gets to zero, have a fun treat to give to them.

6.  Have the Back-To-School Fairy pay your kids a visit.  My son’s kindergarten teacher did this last year and it was just so cute!  She sent home a note from the back to school fairy which was filled with words of encouragement.  A couple of nights before school started, we snuck into his room and left the note on his beside table and sprinkled confetti under his pillow to show that she stopped by to see him.  He was so excited when he woke in the morning and saw that she had been there.  You could swap the note with a small trinket or toy instead.

7.  Measure your kids.  We use the inside of our basement door for this fun idea.  Throughout the year, we measure each of our kids and mark the date.  We try to do this on special occasions like birthdays and holidays — but it is just as fun to kick off the school year this way too.  The kids can then measure themselves on the last day of school and see how much they grew during the school year.

8.  Break the Rules. Why not let your kids break some of your rules.  Maybe they could have junkfood for breakfast?  Perhaps they want to stay up 30 minutes later.  It’s just one day where they can decide what it is that they want to do.  When we do this with our kids, their faces light up!

9.  Have a special snack waiting.  When your kids get home from that first day of school, have a special snack waiting.  That might mean cookies and milk or even stopping by your favorite ice cream parlor for s scoop.  Anything like this can make the day more fun!

10.  Find that special outfit or new shoes.  I recall school being about the clothes — especially brand new tennies!  Take your child shopping to find that PERFECT back to school outfit!  I remember being excited to go back to school so I could wear those items my mom helped me find.

10.  Painted Hands.  Along with the measurements, why not get your child’s handprints etched in…..well…..paint!  Take a black piece of paper and then paint your child’s palms white.  Have them press down to leave a mark.  You’ll be able to watch your child grow each year through handprints too!

What do you do to mark Back to School each year?

Five Tips To Help You Ease Back Into Your Back to School Schedule

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Back to School Schedule Tips | www.pennypinchinmom.com

 

School is staring soon (if it hasn’t already done so where you live).  Whether you start next week or next month, you know how tough it can be for the entire family to move back into that Back to School schedule.  You can actually slowly transition your family to help them change their routine, so that when school starts, you have one less struggle to deal with.  Check out these five tips to help your family east back into your own Back to School Schedule.

Bedtimes.  This is a big one.  During the summer months, we all love to stay up later as we want to enjoy being outdoors and there is really no need for an early bedtime.  This is a big change for kids (and even adults).  Slowly start to move back the bedtime around 5 – 7 days before school starts.  For instance, if your child’s school year bedtime is 8:30 p.m. and during the summer they are allowed to stay up until 9:30, start backing bedtime by 10 – 15 a night until they are back to that earlier bedtime.  Then, when school starts, you will be back to that bedtime and (hopefully) have fewer struggles at bedtime.

Waking up.  This is another one which is tough!  Kids (or at least mine) love to sleep in during the summer months.  This is partly because they can, but also because of those later bedtimes.  As you change the bedtime, you will also want to do the same for waking in the morning.  You will want to do the same thing as you did for the bedtimes.  If your child sleeps until 9:00 a.m., but they will need to be up by 7:00 a.m. for school, start to wake them 15 – 20 minutes earlier each day until they are waking up at their school wake up time.  You might try to do this for at least 1 – 2 weeks before school starts, so your child gets use to waking earlier.

Eating schedule.  During the summer months, you eat breakfast just when you wake up, which may make your lunch and dinner schedules a little off track.  Help your children get into a school eating schedule.  Have them eat breakfast shortly after they wake in the morning.  If you know (approximately) when they will eat lunch at school, start to work that into their routine.  Make sure you have dinner at a decent time, which would allow ample time for baths and homework in the evenings.    This helps train their brain into knowing the times of day they will eat.

Practice your night time schedule.  To help your mornings go smoothly during the school year, it can be helpful for your kids to set out their clothes before they go to bed.  Have them begin doing this a week or so before school begins so they can get into that habit.  Remember that anything you can do at night to make your morning better is always a good thing!

Stay home.  If you can, try to stay at home and do not plan any vacations or trips a week or two before school.  Trips and vacations sometimes take some recovery time (sleep and attitudes) after you get home.  Keeping a simple, stay at home schedule can help ensure your kids are not overly stimulated or tired, which can also help that back to school routine.

What other tips do you have to share?

Student Loans: Start Smart and Pay Off Sooner

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These days, student loans are all over the news. From increasing interest rates to proposals about how to fix some of the inherent issues that come with taking out these loans, how students and their families are paying for college is a growing national concern. While these issues (and more) are sorted out, here are some smart ways students can start paying off their loans.

 

A Head Start

 

A 2013 study found that, on average, students were graduating from their first four years of college with around $29,400 in loan debt. For careers that require even more education— for instance those who plan on attending graduate school or going onto a next-level professional school like medical or dental school—they can expect to be even further in the red. To get a good hold on their educational debt situation, students need to be prepared.

Students can get a clear understanding of what kind of totals they’ll be seeing by using a loan calculator. Saving and scanning copies of every loan (both federal and private) they sign is also important and a good way to keep track of variable interest rates on private loans. Investing in a file cabin or scanning hardware to maintain careful records is a must. With some forward thinking, students will have a clear understanding of what’s ahead when the time comes to start paying off these loans.

In speaking with my husband, he wishes he would have used money earned during college to begin loan payments while he had the funds available. Once he graduated, he no longer had those funds. His bills absorbed his paychecks for some time and even minimum loan payments were hard to afford. Needless to say like many others our age, we are still paying off loans and likely will be for some time.

 

Take A Closer Look

 

A well thought out loan repayment strategy is more than a technique for avoiding financial headaches; it can also save you money. Consider using an online service or software program to get a good handle on your loans. With linked accounts, visual representations and even the ability to show students different methods of repayment, a program like Tuition.io is worth consideration. Students who have only taken out federal loans can monitor their amounts and payments with the U.S. Department of Education’s National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS).

All students (and their parents) should be wary of certain student debt relief services. Be careful of companies who scam students looking for some respite from overwhelming loan payments with promises of consolidation or a year without payments. If the loans are federal, they can only be consolidated through the federal government.

 

Pay It Back

 

For federal loans, and for some private loans, students are given a ‘grace period’ of six months before their first payment is due. While it’s tempting to put off payments, if possible, students shouldn’t wait for this grace period to end before making the first payment. The sooner payments are made, the less interest can be incurred. Students who are able should also think about making payments every week, as opposed to every month or every two weeks. Doing so will lower the interest paid overall. Setting up a method for auto withdrawal (removing money directly from the account) can also mean up to a .25 percent interest rate cut. Talk to your loan servicer or financial advisor about setting up an account for repayments.

If a loan payment is more than your income, you might qualify for income-based repayment (IBR). These plans are based on disposable income and are typically paced out across longer periods of time.

Taking out and repaying student loans can seem daunting, but trust that a college degree is still worth the price. With accumulated savings, clever spending and making the right choices for the time spent on campus, a college degree is a great investment in the future of students and their families.

 

Preparing for college is so much more than ACT scores and admission essays. For more advice on navigating financials or saving for higher ed, click here for friendly advice from our friends at CommunityAmerica Credit Union. This post was written by Savin’ Maven Dana Gering.

Target for Back to School: Every Little Thing Is A Really Big Deal

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back to school with target

 


 
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Target via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Target.

It is that time of the year again. Time to pick up new backpacks, lunchboxes, pencils — and more — all to get kids ready to go back to school. While we all want to do what we can to keep our budget in mind, it is also a great way to have some fun with your kids! They love checking out all of the supplies and getting the chance to help find the things they need. Moments like this are a big deal in the eyes of kids. As a mom, that matters so much to me!

So, when it came time for my own kids and I to shop, we headed to Target. You see, I am one of these “one stop for it all” types of shoppers. I find that my time (and money) is best spent by just making one stop to find all of the items we need. For my kids and I – that one place is Target!

back to school 1

We headed in, lists in hand, ready to see what we could find. Of course, the most IMPORTANT item on any kids’ back to school list is the backpack. That sets the tone for them for the entire year. My kids made a bee line to the Back to School department, past the crayons and more and zeroed on in finding that perfect one.

back to school 2

There were so many styles available for them — with one perfect for all of my kids (ages 5 – 9). They looked through all of them and found that PERFECT one!

Once they had those awesome backpacks in their hands, they wanted to find the lunchbox to go along with it! Once again, the selection they had was incredible and my kids had no problems finding the ones that worked for them!!

back to school 3

Once the top items were safely in the shopping cart, we tackled our list. I would tell the kids what to find and they would look around the store to find it. It was a great lesson for them to learn how to compare prices as we compared store brand prices to the name brands (which the store brands were almost always a better price). I even taught them how to compare sizes — is it better to buy 2 – 10 packs or just one 20 pack.

In fact, one thing that we were able to use as a learning example for my ten year old was poly folders. They had individual up & up brand folders priced at $0.50 each and then had a five pack priced at $30. I asked her to the math to determine which way was a better deal and she quickly learned that buying 5 single folders was much more cost effective. She just thought we were having fun, but mom was already getting that brain working and learning!! (I love it when you can slip in a lesson and they don’t realize it!!).

back to school 4

When we got home and put everything onto the table, the kids found those backpacks, took off the tags and immediately started checking out every pocket and zipper. They each were so excited to show me where they could put their cups and pencils. My oldest was excited to show me where her laptop would go and all of the hidden compartments she found once she sat down and looked through it. I still smile when I think of their excitement over something that seem so small to adults. A backpack. It truly made such a difference for them.

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My kids and I had a great time shopping. We turned it into an event by hitting the Target Food Counter before we left – capping off a busy morning of shopping. Of course, I know that this day was about than school supplies. It was about having fun together. Adding all of those little items to our cart was such a big deal to them — and that is what matters most of all!

TARGET_LOGO

Stick to the Budget: How You Can Hep Your College Student Spend Within Their Means

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Everyone has heard of the dreaded Freshman 15, those extra pounds that tend to show up when mom’s cooking is left behind for multiple trips to the cafeteria using an unlimited meal plan. But what about the troublesome Freshman 27? Never heard of it? Twenty-seven dollars is the average cost of an overdraft fee, which can add up quickly without a budget.

Whether your student is beginning their freshman year or heading back for another year of classes, creating a budget can help students focus on the only numbers that really matter…their test scores.

 

What Things Really Cost

 

Before you send your child off to college, try this little experiment. Ask them to make a list of everything they’ll need during the first semester and what they think these items and activities will cost. They’ll probably write down books, bed sheets, and maybe a new backpack. But, you can ask them “What about parking permits, haircuts and the occasional off-campus meal?” Compare what they think these costs are with real numbers. They’ll likely be surprised, and it can be eye-opening for you as well. This will especially come in handy if they plan to get involved in Greek life, which often involves dues and social outings. The gap between their thoughts and reality are a great basis for collaborating with them on a plan for financial success.

 

Together, you and your student can create a realistic budget that accounts for both the necessities and extra expenses, all while managing their expectations. Use a spreadsheet or online tools such as BudgetMath to get started. Don’t forget to encourage them to put aside money for emergencies, such as a medications or an unplanned trip home. For some, a credit card may be a source of emergency funds, but students – and their parents – should approach a line of credit understanding this isn’t free money.

 

Creating Credit

 

The activation of the Credit CARD Act of 2009 introduced changes in how students can apply for credit cards. The act prohibited using samples of freebies as enticements and created tighter restrictions for pre-approved cards. Also, and most importantly, the act requires that any person applying for a credit card under the age of 21 have a parent, guardian or spouse as a co-signer. If you are thinking about signing your student up for a credit card, know that you’ll be creating a joint account. If your student fails to make their payments, your credit will be affected.

Credit cards are not all bad, especially when used smartly. If your child only has one and pays it off each month, it can actually be beneficial. This would help them establish a good credit history for future purchases such as a new car or their first home.

Talk to your credit union or bank about low-limit student cards. Connecting their credit card through your financial institution makes monitoring expenses simple and credit card payments easier with online access. Also, if necessary, parents can share a login to monitor the finances. With an increase in mobile and online banking options students no longer require a nearby branch to take care of business.

Before your child heads off with their new plastic, be sure to teach them the importance of responsible lending, and of course, steps to avoid identity theft. Tips like installing a password on their mobile device, researching websites before making online purchases and reporting suspicious charges are priceless- literally.

 

There’s An App for That

 

 

If your student is like most teenagers, they’re pretty much glued to their phone. Take advantage of that focused attention and encourage your student to use an app to help them create and use a budget. Here are some popular options:

  • Mint: This app allows your student to connect their savings, check and credit card accounts for an easy-to-navigate look at their expenses.
  • Learnvest: A neat function of this app is that it allows students the functionality to set a financial goal and gives advice along the way to help them achieve said goal.
  • Left To Spend: This simple app connects to your account and does just as the name implies. A quick glance and your student can plan to spend or save.
  • Square: This app allows students to send and receive money quickly, and without paying any debit card or checking account fees like other services.

 

No matter how your child sets up his or her budget, the important thing is that they find a system that works for them (and you). With the costs of college rising and student loan interest rates in the news, getting in the habit of smart financial management means your student will have one less concern after graduation. And a platform for a much better financial life!

 

Life after college is its own adventure. Next week, we’ll discuss steps you and your student can take now for loan repayments later. For more advice on navigating financials or saving for higher ed, click here for friendly advice from the CommunityAmerica Credit Union Savin’ Mavens. This post was written by Maven Amy Grothaus.

 

College Budgeting For Parents: What To Know BEFORE You Pay The Bursar

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Paying for College | www.pennypinchinmom.com

 

When you’re preparing your college-bound child, you tend to worry about grades, test scores and admission essays. Once they’ve decided on where they’ll take classes, your attention shifts to tuition payments, schedules and how well your child will get along with their roommates. There’s a lot of preparation – mentally, emotionally and financially­ – as your student begins his or her newest adventure.

 

Don’t forget to focus on your own obligations as well. Proactive consideration of your established budget is smart planning for you and your student. Financial stability is one of the leading factors of happiness in adulthood, so teaching your child to budget in their college years is a life lesson with serious real-world impact.

 

Look At Your Own Accounts

Take an honest look at what you can afford to pay for and how much monetary help you can provide. If you have other children in the house, or if you foresee the need to assist your own parents as they age, you should strongly consider and account for these forthcoming expenses. How does your retirement look? This should take precedence over paying for your child’s college costs. Students will have a much easier time getting financial assistance for tuition and living costs than you will if you find yourself short on funds at retirement.

 

Be Transparent about Support

Once you’ve decided what you want to do financially for your student, tell them! Too often, parents don’t communicate with their children about finances. While this is often not intentional, it can be harmful to the their ability to maintain their own finances. What and how much you’ll be supporting them as they begin their college careers is an excellent opportunity to begin this conversation.

 

Manage Expectations

If you’re willing and able to financially assist your student, it’s extremely important to have a discussion with your child about how, when and what you’re offering to cover. Too often, parents send money or set up a stipend hoping their child will be naturally prone to manage their expenses. Caught up in the novelty of their newfound independence, a student might try to justify purchasing an $80 team jersey instead of allotting their funds for unforeseen expenses like gas money or fees for extracurricular clubs or groups.

 

Clarify what you will pay for long before school begins. This way, your student can begin making their own, independent choices about saving or spending their money. The summer before freshman year is a great time to begin putting together a budget. Establish a budget with your student and remember they’ve likely never done this before. CommunityAmerica offers a budgeting program called Finance Works, but there are other programs out there like You Need A Budget or Mint that make creating a budget simple. These digital programs also allow you to monitor your funds, and your student’s, easily.

 

Look Beyond the Obvious

Many parents automatically look at tuition payments as the best way to support, but if the student can get solid financial assistance on tuition, consider other ways to help. Bill or insurance support, covering grocery costs or other living expenses are areas to consider.

If you’re unable to help out with college costs, there are still things you can do to promote financial success for your student. Make time to help them fill out FAFSA paperwork, scholarship applications or other student aid forms. If your child is working part time as they finish high school, you may consider ‘matching’ their paychecks or tips. It’s a gesture that can encourage them to work harder while promoting financial diligence.

 

As your student chooses classes and activities, they’ll need to learn how to budget their time. Next week, we’ll discuss how you can help them budget their money as well. For more advice on navigating financials or saving for higher ed, click here for friendly advice from the CommunityAmerica Credit Union Savin’ Mavens. This post was written by Maven Jason Armstrong, a branch manager at CommunityAmerica.

Five Easy Tips to Save Money on Back to School Shopping!

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Save Money Back to School | www.pennypinchinmom.com

Earlier this morning, I was a guest on Kansas City Live, a local talk show.  I shared five easy tips to help you save money on your Back to School Shopping — for clothes and supplies!  I wanted to pass along these tips with all of you who may not have seen the segment!

1 – Shop at home first.  Take a look at the clothes you have – including hand me downs from older kids.  Make a list of the things you need.

You can also look at your supplies.  Perhaps you have a pencil box from last year that you can clean up and use again.  The same goes for scissors and other items.

2 –  Shop the sales.  You’ll find deals on items at various times.  For instance, if you know you need glue sticks and they are on sale this week, go ahead and pick them up if you will be at the store anyhow.  By combining each week’s sales, you can take advantage of all of the deals.
3 – Consignment stores.  If you need clothes, these are a GREAT way to not only find deals, but also make money.  You can sell the items your kids can’t wear anymore.  Turn around and shop with that money and get those items you need for your kids.
4 – Use those coupons!  Target has great store coupons and there are also other coupons coming out all of the time, which you can use towards those supplies for your kids.  For instance, there was recently a coupon to save $1.50 off of 3 up & up school supply items this week at Target – which can make for FREE items.

Also use those coupons on clothes.  Look for free shipping offers and discounts on clothes and uniforms.  You can use apps, such as Coupon Sherpa to find those coveted coupons!

5 – Know your budget!  The average family will spend more than $650 this year on supplies and clothes.  That doesn’t mean you have to.  Look at your budget and determine how much you have to spend and make sure you stick to that.  The best recommendation I have to stick to your budget is to shop with cash – because you can never overspend!

Paying For College: Beyond the Basics — Books, Laptops and More!

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Paying for College -- Dont forget other itesm | www.pennypinchinmom.com

 

When your child is accepted into college, your first thoughts are probably tuition. Once that shock wears off, you’ll need to consider the necessary supplies for your student’s success. Save yourself a headache and use a college dorm room checklist to get started. Once you’ve covered the basics, students (and their parents) need to budget for additional, but necessary, expenses.

 

It’s The Little Things

 

There are the essentials such as an alarm clock, a desk lamp and maybe even a mini fridge. You can also help prepare your student with a care package or going away present filled with these often overlooked but ultimately highly appreciated items:

Another smart consideration for your student is signing up for Amazon Student. With two-day shipping, subscribe-and-save options, streaming of music and movies and the first six months free of charge, it’s worth looking into.

Also, suggest that your child call their future roommate ahead of time to coordinate some of the bigger items. When I headed to college, I purchased a microwave and futon and my roommate got a printer and mini-fridge that we could both use.

 

Book Smart

 

Depending on the course load and how many credit hours a student takes, college textbooks can cost well over $1,000 dollars a year. Due to copyrights, specialized materials and even sheer volume, the cost of textbooks has only increased in recent years. Also, some classes use books that contain removable pages, which double as worksheets. For the courses that don’t require customized books, there are many money saving options.

Around 70 percent of students believe that older editions of their required texts are usable. If there are multiple editions of the book, it doesn’t hurt to send an email to the professor or to their TA inquiring if an older edition will suffice. If this isn’t an option, skip the lines at the bookstore and use the web to broaden your search.

Websites like Big Words and BookRenter are trusted online options for buying (and selling) college textbooks. Big Words does the searching for you while BookRenter provides the service its name implies. Encourage your student to sell their books back at the end of the semester. Many parents mistakenly believe that their student ought to hold on to their textbooks, which quickly depreciate. And, of course, there’s also the growing trend of e-textbooks.

 

Reliable Technology

 

With technology so highly integrated into today’s college experience, a student with reliable equipment at their disposal has an edge in the classroom. Granted, there are computer labs and printings stations on every campus, but let’s face it, laptops and tablets have replaced the college-ruled notebook. Professors record podcasts of lectures, provide PDFs of study guides and some even require discussion through online forums.

Spend the money on a dependable laptop or tablet, but take advantage of back-to-school sales. Big Box stores like Sam’s Club and Costco are also worth looking into as well. If you don’t find what you want there, contact your school’s IT department. They can typically provide university sanctioned promotion codes to stores or websites for equipment and for necessary programs, such as Microsoft Office Suite. For peace of mind, don’t overlook purchasing an external hard drive and a USB stick, just in case.

 

Navigating the necessities to prepare for college is one thing. Preparing your budget for the next 4 (or more!) years is something else entirely. Next week, it’s all about budgeting for parents. For more advice on navigating financials or saving for higher ed, click here for friendly advice from the CommunityAmerica Credit Union Savin’ Mavens. This post was written by Maven Kat Hnatyshyn, a branch manager at CommunityAmerica.

 

10 Tips To Help You Save Money On Back to School Clothes

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10 Ways to Save on Back to School Clothes

It is time for back to school once again.  It is expected that the average family will end up spending around $635 this season (according to the National Retail Federation).  That includes the much needed supplies, electronics and clothing.

You can actually spend less than this amount by taking steps to ensure you save as much as possible.  You can easily save on your supplies by finding the best deals (see our Back to School Database).   You can also save on your kids’ clothes by following a few money saving tips!  Below you will find ten:

1.  Shop Your Closets.  Before you head out to shop, take a look in your kids’ closets and dressers.  Have them try things on so you can see what fits and what does not.  Then, make a list of the things you will need.

2.  Shop Thrift Stores.  Second hand stores often have items which have little wear.  If you look at how quickly your kids grow and the cost of clothes, this is an easy way to pick up new threads which they will wear for only a few months.

3.  Stay at Home.  Oftentimes, you can find online codes to save on your purchase.  If you happen to also get free shipping, that makes for an even better deal.  This will allow you to shop from the comfort of home without fighting crowds.  You can also save time by not driving around as well as fuel costs.

4.  Put your Phone to Work.  There are many great apps you can download to help you find coupons and discounts.   One of my favorites is CouponSherpa.  They have retail coupons which you can pull up right at checkout. The cashier will scan your phone and you can save – without having to clip a thing before you leave!

5.  Shop The Sales Tax Holiday.  Many states offer a sale’s tax holiday to help reduce the burden to families.  We pay nearly 9% for sales tax where I live, so that can add up to significant savings when we shop over that weekend.  Find out if your state is participating by reviewing our 2014 Sales Tax Holiday List.

6.  Clothing Swap.  Find friends who have kids who might be a size larger or smaller than your kids and do a swap!  You can give them the clothes your kids can no longer wear nd and get new items as well.

7.  Recycle Clothes.  Just because you have a short sleeved shirt doesn’t mean you can’t wear it in the winter.  Just add a long sleeved tee underneath and you’ve got something new for fall and winter!

8.  Shop clearance.  It is still warm outside (and will be for a few more months).  You can find clearance deals on shorts and tees, which is what your kids will start out wearing initially anyhow.  This is a great way to pick up a few items to start off the school year.  That also allows you time to see discounts and deals on the other items they might need later in the season.

9.  Always shop off-season.  This is one you might not be able to do right at this moment, however, when you shop ahead for the next season you can save.  For example, winter items are always put on clearance in January (which never makes any sense to me).  If you can find jeans, coats or other items, pick them up one or two sizes larger for your kids and hold onto them for the following winter.

10.  Keep your budget in check.  Sure, your kids might want the $150 sneakers, but if your budget is set at a $50, stick to it.  They might think it is the end of the world if they don’t have the best, but you need to make sure you don’t overspend.  If your child want something at a higher price than what you are willing to pay, you can always allow them to cover the difference.  They might just learn that they really don’t want that item as badly as they thought, when they have to cough up the cash for it.

What tips do you have to save on back to school clothes?