Buy for Back to School on the Cheap

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Do you earn an 'F' when it comes to shopping for school supplies? This year, get more for your money and send them to school with everything they need. First, take an inventory of the items that you have lying around in playrooms, bedrooms or offices. You may have enough pencils and pens to supply them for the year, or a good part of it, by raiding these areas. Stow them in a plastic Ziploc storage bag to prevent having to buy more. Many parents find themselves buying supplies that go unused year after year - the guilty items include those seldom-needed, or provided by the school, things like rulers, protractors and calculators. Other good-as-new items kids might have lying around the house include art supplies like markers and colored pencils. For the items that do need to be purchased, plan ahead. Start checking store circulars and Web sites for sales and specials on the particular items you need, and keep a copy of the school supply list in your purse at all times. That way, if you're out shopping and see a great sale, then you can take advantage of discounted items on the list.