A teacher (and mom) offers tips on saving on school supplies
There's some great tips and advice in this story by our colleague Marlene Sokol on how to save money when shopping for school supplies. Marlene brought in a great adviser: Lissette Godwin, a mother of three who is also a curriculum specialist for the Hillsborough County School District. Two of her kids are in high school, the youngest is entering fifth grade, and she has 15 years of experience as a classroom teacher. Much of that time was in kindergarten, where crayons vanish by Christmas and glue sticks are always in demand. She has back-to-school shopping down to a science.
This advice is timely with the Florida sales tax holiday coming up this weekend. You may want to get up to speed on new tweaks to Florida's tax holiday. This guide by business writer Mark Albright makes it clearer. The price for qualifying clothing and school supplies has gone up, but books have been taken off the list. Even though the state loses $30 million in sales taxes during the holiday, retailers say in the end it gets more back because people buy other items while they are out shopping.
We've already started some of our shopping because last year, I made the mistake of waiting until the last minute and the store was sold out of some of the items I needed. Godwin endorsed that idea in Marlene's story, but cautioned that one of the big mistakes parents make is buying up things that they may not need.
Other advice includes:
Anticipate. You'll know in advance if your kids need crayons and glue sticks, pencils and pens. Stockpile the staples. You'll never find crayons and glue sticks for less than a quarter during the school year.
Buddy system. Find a close friend or relative with similar-aged children so you can go halves on bulk purchases of pencils, highlighters and other common items.
Careful. Don't buy anything big or expensive until the teacher asks for it and, with specific items such as high-end calculators and presentation binders, make sure you know exactly what your child will need. It's no fun trying to return things in the back-to-school rush.
I've also gotten some good tips from the deal spotters on the Here's the Deal Tampa Bay Facebook page. They tipped me off last week that Publix was selling some basic staples like crayons and pencils very cheap.
So what are your tricks for saving money on school supplies, readers?
--Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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PHOTO: Hillsborough County School District curriculum specialist Lissette Godwin, 40 and her daughter Kayla Godwin, 17, shop for school supplies at Walmart on Gunn Highway in Tampa, paying special attention to bargains. [LARA CERRI | Times]