Back-to-school plan saves money

Angi Harben learned early the values of a dollar and hard work, and when school starts each year for her son, those lessons keep her from overspending to get ready for another year.

“I believe if you know how to live broke, that’s a really good skill to have,” said Harbin, a former reporter who is now Director of Communications at Georgia Credit Union Affiliates.

Harbin makes lists of tips and ways to save money, and when she gets enough, she passes them on to readers of the credit unions’ website.

Here are Harbin’s ideas that could save you some money – and maybe some time, the other resource that always seems in short supply — when shopping for school.

1. It’s all about the list. Don’t go shopping until you have it, and stick to it when you get it. You might end up buying the coolest pencil sharpener ever, but if it’s not required, your child might never use it. Also, avoid spending money unnecessarily by buying things not on the list. Sounds easy, but not so much.

2. Shop from the inside out. Before taking your list to the store, take it to your “miscellaneous” drawer (you know you have one). Pencils, pens, glue sticks. Check your house to see what you already have before going out and spending your hard-earned money on items you’ve already paid for once.

3. Stock up when it makes sense. Unless this is your child’s first year of school, or they attend school in some far off land where you have no idea what they’re up to, you should have a feel for how many times you bought colored pencils the year before (once), extra packages of college ruled paper (three times) and blue ball point pens (13 times). Don’t get all crazy and stock up with three of everything. There probably isn’t a need to buy more than one pair of scissors. But if you see binder paper on sale four for $1, stock up.

4. Cheaper isn’t always better. Backpacks, book bags and lunch totes – which get hauled around daily and can take quite a beating – should be strong and sturdy. Spending a little more for a higher quality item can save you money and time later.

5. Leave your child at home when shopping. Shopping with your child could cause you to come away with something not on the list. And you’ll find it much easier when you don’t have to fight the, “I want a $16 binder” battle though you found a similar one for three bucks.