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School Supplies on a Budget

Great Ideas for a Tight Budget

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Parents and students feel the pressure when it comes time to buy a new stock of school supplies. Students want what's new and popular, while parent want to stick to a budget. Sometimes you can find a way to make everybody happy.

Play Let's Make a Deal

One of the toughest things about being a parent is dealing with stress and disappointment when it comes to the cost of school supplies. Students want what's popular, and that usually means they want what's expensive. It's a hard time for parents, who may feel guilty and upset that they can't afford everything their kids want. It's also a tough time for kids, who only want to fit in and live up to pressures.

One way to head off this potential time of hurt feelings and stress is trying to work out a compromise. You will agree to a deal that takes some of the pressure off your parents.

Pick one (or two) items that you must have. It may be expensive shoes or a stylish backpack—just something you really want and something that will make you feel good. Then agree to accept low-budget items for the rest of your supplies.

Why does this work? When you ask your parents for one or two expensive things that you must have, they are really thinking "If I agree to this, what comes next?" They are often worried that your requests will keep coming and the expense will keep growing.

This bargaining method will take pressure off of parents by establishing a limit to the expensive stuff and it also enables you to get what you really want!

Create New School Supplies from those old Poster Boards

Poster boards are inexpensive, and they have many uses. You can even use old posters from last year if they're still around. You will need to use flash cards at some point, especially if you're going to take a foreign language class. You can cut up a used poster board and make your own flashcards. Be sure to use color-coding when possible!

Posters are also good for making your own folders. With some staples and a roll of masking tape, you can create some beautiful personalized folders.

Make your Own Vintage Clothing Book Bag

This works unless your school requires a specific type of book bag. You can take an old piece of treasured clothing, like an old pair of jeans, a summer dress you can't wear any longer, or an old coat, and make a simple bag with a draw string top.

You don't really need a pattern, although you can try that if you're really adventurous. If you don't want to go to that extent, simply cut two big rectangles from your fabric, sew together the bottoms and sides, and create a drawstring top. Get creative with this and have fun. There are so many possibilities! For instance, you could decorate your bag with parts of an old bikini. Your friends will recognize it, get a good laugh, and be very impressed!

Free School Supplies

Offices always have an oversupply of stock. Many use three-ring binders and folders for special presentations or campaigns—then throw them away. Most of us know someone who works in an office. Write a list of people you know who work in the office environment and simply ask them to be aware of this type of waste. Don't by too shy or self-conscious Most people don't like to create waste and they will be happy to put used items to a great use.

If you do feel awkward about approaching someone or calling an office out of the blue, why not try to organize a group to do this? For instance, if you are involved in a church, you could organize a group of people who approach offices on behalf of the church--for several members' benefit. You can share the wealth and cut down on waste!

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