Save money on back to school shopping: School supplies cost-cutters for parents

Back to School--how retailers love those three words. Back to school is as big a holiday for stores as Black Friday! But for kids and parents, back to school shopping is stressful, reported Business Wire. Here are money-saving mama's BTS cost-cutters for parents. Get budget back to school bargains that bust stress and make BTS shopping fun.

Do. Not. Be. Upsold. Stores love to guilt parents with long lists of school supplies your kids supposedly can't survive school without. Now, I'll admit, I love BTS shopping. What's not to love about $.25 crayons and scissors? But this money-saving mama is also a teacher. She knows kids don't need half the stuff stores pad the list with. Use this tightwad teacher's BTS shopping guide to skip the BS and save instead of spend money.

Wait for the teacher's school supplies list. Before school starts, you should get a welcome packet or email either from school, teacher or both. Shop from that. Don't buy till you see the list. You can stock up on obviously cheap supplies you know you'll need, but wait on specifics.

Find out what you really need. Our youngest daughter went to a charter school a few years ago. The school wanted us to buy a plethora of over-priced school supplies: color printer paper ($10 for 50 sheets compared to $4 for 500 white sheets), colored sticky notes, costly art supplies, Expo markers, North Face back pack, hand sanitizer, tissues. Teachers didn't even have room to store it all.

Find out what the school provides. After paying $16 for four "special" notebooks kids were "required" to have, the teacher told me he had plenty and I shouldn't have bought them. I said he should he shouldn't have included them in the list.

You choose what to supply the school. That colored paper the school wanted was just to pretty-up notes home (which ended up in the recycling anyway). We requested email updates but school preferred to waste trees (and our money). I refused to buy colored paper. Finally, they went to email.

Don't provide shared stuff. Call me cheap but I don't want to pay so other kids can waste. Subbing in the schools, I got a rude awakening about how supplies were used. Kids played with those expensive sticky notes. They broke the costly art pencils, threw erasers, wasted hand sanitizer and tissues. Send your child with personal tissues and hand sanitizer. You have more control over how much she uses than you do over how the class uses it.

Attend back to school freebie events. Communities and churches are getting on board to help parents with school supplies. Watch the newspaper or school website. Don't be ashamed to take free stuff you qualify to receive. These back to school events are real blessings for parents.

Buy school supplies you can afford. Don't let anyone railroad or shame you into paying more. Look for bargains. I got a $150 North Face backpack for $69 on sale at Amazon. I paid only $21 for it, using Swagbucks rewards coupons and Amazon VISA perks.

Black History Month and MLK Jr. Day from Detroit and the Rosa Parks bus to a New Orleans Congo Square Kwanzaa

 I had a profound experience, an epiphany if you will, on Christmas in 2014. I was taken outside my life and transported to a place I've never been, in a time I never lived. The memory haunts like the song your memory doesn't recognize, but your heart does. This experience is particularly relevant on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and always during Black History Month. So what's the big deal? I sat in Rosa Parks bus seat.  MLK Jr. Day connects Detroit, Rosa Parks bus to New Orleans Congo Square, Kwanzaa

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