Metro Mama & Metro Baby

By Missye K. Clarke

It’s that time again: notebooks, pencils and backpacks, Dora the Explorer lunchboxes, brand new Crayolas and fat pink erasers. A new school year is in high gear for the retail sect and bargains and trends are in full swing for the tot trottin’ off for school days and apples for the teacher.

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Don’t Scrimp on Backpacks.
Think about spending a little more for items such as backpacks. While the cheapest plastic ones are tempting, backpacks for your kindergartener or first grader do take a good deal of abuse. The cheaper ones won’t withstand the daily grind as ones of better quality do. You’ll save in the long run buying one that will last for a couple or few years. Great places to go for such backpacks are www.jansport.com, www.ebags.com, www.kipling.com and www.landsend.com.

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Keep Your Child In the Loop With Clothing Choices.
Clothes are expensive and those that aren’t worn are a waste of money. Talk with your child about what he or she likes and let them choose their clothing while shopping with you. They have to wear them, after all. Catalogs are good for this, not only for getting a feel for what style the child likes, but even more importantly what colors he or she enjoys. Remember, your color and style choices may not be your child’s. Besides, if they get a say in their clothing selection, this lowers the chances of tantrum throwing significantly.

School Supply Stockup.
The price for school supplies such as pencils, notebooks and the like plummets in August and September. This is usually the best time to stock up, even if you think you have everything you’ll need for the year. Keep a drawer or shelf in your house that is only used to store school supplies, and keep an inventory list handy so you know immediately what you have, what you need and what you’ll replenish. Find all the help you need online at www.target.com.

Hand-Me-Downs Ain’t A Bad Thing.
Your world is awash in hand-me-down possibilities, but if you don’t make it clear to family and friends that you are receptive to them, you may be missing out on a real money-saver. Many people won’t offer hand-me-downs for fear of insulting someone, but if you make it clear that your door is always open to such things, you’ll get avalanched. Stuff you don’t use can be sold on consignment or donated to the Goodwill. And, while in the mode of “one good turn deserves another,” when your own darling outgrows his or her clothes, you can donate, swap or trade up their clothing for the school clothing items you’re seeking, as well. You always knew the cute Osh-Kosh, B’Gosh overall set or French Toast adorable white shirt and skirt set you’d been eyeing on your friend’s kids for the longest would look just ducky on your children-and it does!

Embarrassed About Asking For That French Toast Skirt?
Gather some tea, cookies and get together a church or community group to arrange a clothing swap. Everybody gets together at a set time and place with all their unwanted clothing and lays them out according to gender and size. There is no charge for anything. At the end of the day, you’ll be much lighter with unused clothing and have a number of items crossed off your school-shopping list… for free! Anything left over after the get-together can be donated to Goodwill or sold on consignment.

Originally published August 2006
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