IF YOU ARE LIKE ME, then come early July you were already thinking about preparations for the new school year. Parents and children in the community this year are getting ready extra early because Polk County public schools moved up their calendar by one week — day one of school is August 15.
Along with this time of year comes the inevitable emotional stress of getting things in order before the “big day.” Then, there’s the financial considerations for those who have to get the school supplies in order. Fortunately, Florida’s back-to-school shopping sales tax holiday is August 5-7 to help alleviate some of the expenses.
Here are a few tips to help you be prepared, minimize stress, and control back-to-school costs:
• Gather up the supplies you already have (new pencils, unopened glue, etc).
• Make a list of what you still need to buy (making a list means less time in the store and less impulse buying when you go back-to-school shopping).
• For parents with students who need to wear uniforms: Check their current uniforms for their quality (any holes or stains), and buy new if needed. Or, check with the school for gently used, if available.
• For parents of younger students who don’t need uniforms: make a clothing list of “needs” and “wants” for your child. This will help you manage your budget, control costs, and also help you get a few items for your child that he/she really desires for their wardrobe.
• Check the sales and coupons before you go. Not all sales are created equal. In fact, many major department stores will lower the price on two or three back-to-school items to “hook” or attract consumers. Then, they slightly raise the price of the other back-to-school items. So, if you plan it right and go to two or three different stores to only get the sale items, you can get the most bang for your buck.
• Save your receipts to allow for easy returns, should you need to take anything back. One year, I bought new backpacks for all the kids and in less than a week after school started, a shoulder strap broke on two of the four we purchased.
• Don’t forget online options, and factor shipping time. Online shopping can be a great option if you can’t stand the crowds; just make sure to purchase early and securely, and still save those receipts.
Thanks for reading Central Florida Health News, and here’s hoping you have a great rest of your summer, and a smooth start to the new school year!
column by CELESTE JO WALLS
Celeste Jo Walls is managing editor of Central Florida Health News. She may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.