4 Big Back-to-School Money-Wasters

Back-to-school activities are in full swing, including shopping! Be ready for a lot of begging from your kids and maybe even a few tears.

The key to keeping costs down—but spirits up—is knowing when to compromise and when to resist. Below, our suggestions for a few things you really don’t need to buy right now, no matter how much your kids – be they in elementary school or college – want you to.

A Full-On Back-to-School Wardrobe

We pride ourselves on giving our kids the best, and of course we want them to look nice, so parents can go a little crazy buying too much at the beginning of the school year. Before you hit the stores, search their closets and see what items your kids have outgrown—and what they could still wear for at least a couple months.

Make a list. Then buy a few seasonal items to fill out their wardrobe and plan to shop the holiday sales for the rest.

Brand New Textbooks

Is your kid headed to college? Before spending a pretty penny on brand new books, check if the university has a textbook rental program. Services such as bookrenter.com and chegg.com are also a possibility.

And if you (or your kid) are dead set on unbroken spines, don't buy at the college bookstore; it’s usually the highest-priced place to go.

That List of “Must-Have” Supplies

Before heading to the store, check what still works from last year's haul. Chances are, your kid didn't even use half of that 500-page packet of paper, and younger ones still have most of their crayons.

Likewise, don't spend on fancy pens or pencils. Odds are they’ll get lost at school.

A Character-Decorated Lunchbox

Sure, that Captain America thermos occasions much whining and wanting now, but three weeks in your kid could be totally over it. Taste can change, quick.

Instead, get a basic box and let your kids decorate it with stickers. This is an accessory that your kids will not outgrow! If they’d rather use soft lunch boxes with straps, let them decorate it with fun pins that can be changed up throughout the year.

Think I've forgotten any back-to-school money-wasters? Please let me know!

Yoly Mason writes about frugality and savings tips and tricks in her popular Atlanta-based Spanish-language blog Cuponeando.net.

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