10 Back-to-School Money Saving Tips

Crowded stores, long lines, empty shelves…this all sounds kind of like the holiday shopping season when it isn’t! It’s the second largest consumer-spending season according to the National Retail Federation: back-to-school shopping. And it has gotten expensive!

The National Retail Federation foresees households of K-12 graders will spend an average of nearly $700 on clothes and accessories, electronics, shoes, and school supplies. For college students it’s closer to $900 when factoring in electronics.

This all sounds like a lot doesn’t it? That $700-$900 may not always be at your disposal and charging the credit card or taking out a small loan wouldn’t be the wisest idea either.

Below are 10 back-to-school money saving tips mentioned on MoneyTalksNews.com that may help you and your family save some cash in the coming month:

1. Make a List
Some schools and colleges are good at giving students a list of necessary school supplies. Use those lists to stay on-track when shopping and avoid unnecessary purchases.

2. Check Closets and Drawers
Before you go shopping, take stock of what you already have! Look in your kids’ closets for wardrobes that still fit and sell any that don’t to make a quick buck. It’s also a good way to remove clutter from your home!

Don’t forget to check desk drawers. You may find pens, pencils, notebooks, erasers, and more lurking around in your home.

3. Look for ‘Like New’ Supplies
With all the garage sales going on in the summer, you’re bound to find supplies at even cheaper prices. One student’s trash is another student’s treasure!

4. Clip Coupons
Check out coupons from retailers. Target is one retailer that offers their own store coupons and promotions for school supplies.

5. For College Students: Cheaper Textbooks
Don’t wait on that bookstore line to purchase overpriced books with little re-sell value. Rent books online on sites like www.chegg.com or www.skyo.com for over half the price of buying.

6. Bulk Up!
Got a big family or friends to share a jumbo size purchase with? Find great value at a warehouse club on school supplies.

7. Shop at Discount Stores
Have you shopped at discount stores like Marshalls and T.J. Maxx? Find good quality clothing and book bags for your child at great prices. College students can find discounted bedding and kitchen supplies.

8. Search for the Best Deal on Big-Ticket Items
Need to buy a big-ticket item like a computer? Check out sites like PriceGrabber and Nextag to find the best price. If you’re going to buy online check out RetailMeNot for coupon codes before checkout.

9. Wait Until September Clearance Sales
If you have enough to hold you over until the fall, do so. You’ll find amazing deals on clothing, book bags, and lunch bags after the first few weeks of the school year.

10. Just Say “No” to the Unnecessary
We’re all guilty of being caught by good in-store marketing that’ll get us to buy something we don’t need. This is why you should create a list to begin with to keep you on task! Don’t buy the fancy overpriced pencils, pens, folders, etc.

Also, don’t be influenced by your kids to get something that is also unnecessary. Stay on task!

How to Cope with Daylight Savings Time

It’s that time of year again where the temperature warms up and the huge snow mounds left over from worse days are all or nearly melted. It’s also that time to spring forward! The clocks will change for Daylight Savings Time (DST) on March 13th this year at 2 a.m. The effects of this one-hour change will give you an extra hour of sunlight at the expense of one hour of glorious beauty sleep.

How can you cope with the change and avoid the grogginess when you lose your hour of sleep when the time changes? Here are a few tips to help with the adjustment:

Go to bed a little earlier the night before.

It’ll help you feel completely recharged the next morning! It’ll probably make it easy to not crush your snooze button first thing in the morning or snooze your various alarm clocks set up on your smartphone. Disclaimer: This is providing you aren’t already sleep deprived or consuming alcohol or caffeine before bedtime. But really, who isn’t already sleep deprived or with a nightcap before bedtime?

Reset your internal clock.

Light suppresses the secretion of the sleep-inducing substance melatonin. It’s important to spend as many hours in light during the day and limit your exposure to light in dark hours. Another added plus, a lower energy bill! WARNING: DO NOT live in complete pitch black darkness in your house. You might knock over your favorite coffee mug walking through the halls and ruin your Monday morning before it even starts. Please do have a night-light installed so you can see where you are going in your home.

Practice good sleep hygiene and create a sleep-friendly environment.

If you need to wake up early, don’t pick up your favorite alcoholic drink right before bed! I know it’s tempting, but Mondays are already difficult to take. Don’t make it worse. Also, don’t drink any caffeinated beverages right before bed. Why wake yourself up before getting ready to go to bed?

Practice some calming rituals before going to bed. Take a hot bath or wear (comfortable) earplugs and eye masks. It’s crucial you wake up at the same time every day as well.

So there you have it. Some easy ideas (I hope) to help your Monday morning after you spring forward!

7 Thoughtful Gifts for Your Valentine Without Breaking the Bank

The romantic day of the year is upon us! As most other holiday gifts, Valentine’s Day gifts can be pricey… but you can impress your sweetheart this year and still leave your budget intact. Remember what mom and dad used to say? “It’s the thought that counts.” You just have to use some creativity (and lots and lots of love) to come up with one of the most thoughtful gifts for your Valentine.

Let the creativity begin! Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

1. Order a Customized Jigsaw Puzzle
Shutterfly.com lets you create a jigsaw puzzle out of a photo of you and your sweetheart. 

2. Cook a Romantic Dinner
Home-cooked, candle-lit dinner for two? This is surely a romantic way to tell your sweetheart how much they mean to you. Pick up the ingredients for your loved one’s favorite meal and prepare it for a romantic evening.

3. Put Together a Bag of Your Partner’s Favorite Sweets
Charm a loved one with a bag of their favorite candies. Find a decorative bag at grocery store and fill it with sweets you know your love craves. Tie a big red bow and voila!

4. Breakfast in Bed
Cook up your sweetheart’s favorite breakfast and present it with some flowers and a card bedside.

5. Handmade Romantic Card
Let your artistic side flow! Even if you aren’t Michelangelo himself you can certainly create a masterpiece card that your love will adore. Create a sweet or silly card and fill it with love.

6. Make a Printed Photo Book
Create a small photo book with a couple of pictures highlighting special experiences together. There are sites online that let you upload photos and construct a photo book. Here are just a couple mentioned in The Washington Post.

7. Create a Video Collage
For the more tech-savvy, create a video montage with photos of you and your sweetheart with their favorite song in the background. Most computers nowadays come pre-installed with free easy-to-use video editing software.