Polk Moms

Connecting moms in Polk County, Fla.

We just got our school supply list for this year for our three kids. There are two grades between all of them, so hand-me-down school supplies are not going to work this year. The oldest is going into high school and the prices on some of this stuff is crazy. The youngest goes into fifth grade and the middle will be in seventh. Any tips on saving money in a situation like this?

Believe it or not, you can find pretty good prices on back-to-school supplies at your local T.J. Maxx and Marshall's stores. They even have some very specific items that may be on your child's list that is going into high school. Save your receipts just in case there is a need to return an item. We also shop around at garage sales. If you buy a big ticket item, be certain that the individual holding the sale will agree for you to be able to return it if it is not what a teacher actually wanted for the class. For example, I bought a calculator for our daughter going into the 10th grade last year, but it wasn't acceptable to her teacher. I called the person I got it from and she gave me my money back. Also, sometimes, if you call the school before school starts and ask if one product can be substituted for another, a teacher may agree. - Laura W. in Fort Worth, TX

FROM JODIE:

Some schools will hold a back-to-school sale on used school supplies a couple of days before classes actually start. Call and ask your school if this is something that they do. Another place that you might find a good deal is Craigslist. If so, be sure to take someone with you to look at the item and choose a safe place to do so. Many cities and towns provide areas for people to meet who are buyers or sellers from Craigslist in a police station or office, called Safe Trades. Research it online and find the closest one to you and call to be sure of the times and days it's offered. There are also tax-free days on certain school supplies and various items offered in many states. Not all states and not all stores participate so you'll have to research this along with which specific merchandise qualifies as tax-free. Depending on which state you live in, tax-free days will be scheduled on different weekends all the way through August 26th. This also applies to some online shopping. For example, Amazon is honoring tax-free days unless the product is sold by a third party. If this is the case, you will be responsible for personally contacting the seller directly and asking if it is tax-free. Some online and brick and mortar stores will include a coupon or code for additional savings.

CAN YOU HELP?

My kids are complaining that I don't offer interesting and/or at least different snacks. Our school will start after Labor Day and I was wondering if you could help me choose or create some new, quick snacks for their lunch boxes and after school.

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