Sending your kids off to school each fall can be a strain on the family budget. But with a little planning, there are ways to ease the pain.
Over $2,000 is what Oakland mom Jeanette Brumfield-Lewis says it will take to buy school supplies and clothing for her four school-age children. She notes that most of the money is spent on staples like "clothes, shoes, underwear, socks, deodorant, gym outfits." And on top of that are the little things like backpacks, pens, and notebooks.
Tory Johnson has a segment on ABC's Good Morning America called Deals and Steals. Her advice is to hold off on those back to school shopping trips a little longer, "The closer you are to school, the better the savings are going to be. So if you can hold out, do so."
Johnson predicts that waiting could save shoppers an additional 10 to 30 percent. To save even more money, she advises parents to shop without the kids in order to minimize impulse buying; also, to look around the house to see what supplies are left over from previous years.
And, hold a backpack swap party, "All the kids of a variety of ages each brought a backpack that they no longer wanted," says Johnson. "Put them all out, obviously cleaned them and made them look as good as new. And then everybody got to pick technically a new backpack."
The Lend a Hand Foundation has been collecting donations for back to school supplies for months. Its goal is to supply enough backpacks and school supplies for Oakland area students from at least 25 schools.
"I have a big passion for this because I know what it feels like not to have supplies and clothes and things that you need growing up because I experienced that as a young child, not having those things," said Dee Johnson, Executive Director at Lend a Hand Foundation
Right now the foundation is short of its fundraising goal and may only be able to help 8,500 kids, not the 10,000 it was hoping for.
"They're going to be very sad, and lacking what they need to get started," Johnson said.
For families like the Brumfield-Lewis', Lend a Hand could make a huge difference, "It's not about the things that they give you," noted Brumfield-Lewis. "It's knowing that when you need something you can call them."
If you'd like to help with a donation for Lend a Hand, visit this website: http://www.lendahandfoundation.org/. And if you're in need, contact your school principal for the program nearest you.