"Back to School Shopping" strikes Terror

I didn't realize how much the words "Back to School Shopping" affected me until this year. You see, I have been a single Mom for most of my children's lives and we haven't exactly been floating in money. The child support I used to get once in awhile, (if you could call it that) would be a money order for $50.00 for 3 children, all of whom ate, dressed, and lived every day! Back to School Shopping financially for me, came close to rivaling Christmas. It was the only time other than Christmas when my children could get new clothes, etc. except when absolutely necessary. When my children were small, we did not have the internet to find bargains, shop online, or ask others where they found the best deals.
Last year, my last child finally graduated. I find myself seeing the ads on T.V., seeing the ads in the paper, and hearing the ads on the radio, yet I still feel this anxiousness in my heart. It's real similar to the feeling you get when there is a cop behind you, and even tho you haven't done anything wrong, your heart starts beating a little faster? That feeling. Then comes the sigh of relief as I realize I don't have to do that anymore.
Now I am working on a paradigm shift. I am teaching myself to look at this time of year as an opportunity. This is my chance to get all the office supplies cheaper than any other time of the year! As I was looking for "School Supplies" to fill my own needs, (gosh that has a luxurious taste of selfishness coming from the 'Mom' in me)I discovered a few things that might be helpful for the "not so affluent" parents, teachers that pay for supplies out of their pockets, and the not so yet successful entraupenuer.
First of all, lets talk the possibility of FREE. One of the times while my children were small, I rented out a room in our house to another single mom with a daughter about the same age as my youngest. She worked for the Salvation Army and all the children got very nice back to school supplies for nothing. We could have never afforded everything and many places donate tons of supplies just for people like us.
Freecyle Network I just discovered this morning. You find the State, then your City, and join for free. People post things they don't want or need anymore, hoping to find someone who can use them. This not only helps people get rid of their items, it helps the people that need what they have and all the while it keeps the stuff out of landfills, thus helping the environment. While there may not be any posts in your town or city, don't forget to check the areas around you.
When it comes to desks, computer items, etc. it doesn't hurt to check Craig's List. It's amazing what you can find in the 'free' section.
The concencus on stores seems to be Target. One organization checked out Walmart, RiteAid and Staples. While everyone assumes Walmart is the cheapest, a lot of their items are sold individually versus in bulk, and they add up quickly. My thing is to just make sure you're comparing 'apples to apples' and not 'apples to oranges'. I can't tell you how many people I've taught to look at the sq. footage on toilet paper instead of how many rolls you get, versus the price. If you're paying only $.79 cents for a spiral notebook of 70 pages, but spiral notebooks are on sale somewhere else for $.99, and you're getting 128 pages, which is the better buy?
For college age students it is totally amazing to me what the cost of textbooks are. On top of tuition and everything else you need, who can afford $300.00+ for books. As soon as you can find out which text books are neccessary for a class, one of the first places everybody checks is the Campus Bookstore. Used books run out quickly. The first thing you can do is post what you want under the "wanted" section of Craig's List. You may luck out and someone has the text you need and will just let you have it, but don't expect it. Be prepared to offer a reasonable price for the book. When my oldest daughter fist started college, she found the cheapest books at Now there are so many choices. She gets the title of the book she needs and the number and just 'googles' it. You get listings from ebay and some sites that will compare prices for you.
Another idea is to join us at Quixtar and earn money back while you shop our partner stores!
IBO # 1750841 'Key' BEA

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