How to Plan Back to School Shopping

Finally, an attack plan for the best of us.  Don’t let back to school shopping get you down.  Planning is the best way to get the most for your time and money. And when it comes to back to school spending, the goal is often to do it as quickly and as cheaply as possible. While it may seem too soon to start thinking about back to school shopping, it is right around the corner. Planning now will save you later.

Take a Look at What You Usually Spend

Take a look at your bank and credit card statements for the past few years to assess how much you usually spend. This information will help you set a budget for your children this year. Remember that school materials and supplies should be included in the budget along with clothing.

Take a Look at Your Current Budget

It’s quite possible that your financial situation is different than it was last year. Take a look at your current budget. How much can you afford to spend on back to school shopping this year? You may be able to spend more or you may have to spend less.

Additionally, knowing how much you spent last year can help you make good budgeting decisions this year. For example, if you know you spent $300 last year and can only afford $200 this year, you may be able to shift a few things in your monthly budget to find that extra $100.

Make a List of What You Need

How much have your children grown? What clothing do they need and what do they want? Make a list of the items they need and start prioritizing. Ask your children to get involved in this process. They can try last year’s clothing on and let you know which items they want to keep and which items are no longer appropriate.

What Stores Will You Visit?

As it gets closer to that inevitable shopping day, consider taking your child to thrift stores. Many used clothing stores sell brand name items that are in ideal condition. If your children are brand conscious, they may enjoy being able to purchase more for their money while still looking cool.

Give Them Cash

One of the best ways to stick to your budget and your shopping plan is to hand the budgeted amount to each child. Children have a tendency to go overboard when they’re shopping. They find that one brand name sweatshirt and spend half of their budget on it. Then they cry a few weeks later when they’re forced to wear the same shirt over and over again. They make much smarter buying decisions when they get to hold the cash in their hand. They tend to want to get more for their money – it almost becomes a game for them.

Decide when to Go

Finally, set the date. You can save a lot of money if you go school shopping about a month after school starts. Items go on sale and children are able to buy what the cool kids are wearing at school at a much lower price. If they absolutely must have a new outfit for school, then buy one outfit for that first day and then commit to taking them shopping in a few weeks when things go on sale.


Your Questions About Ways To Save Money In College

Chris asks…

What is the best way to save money for college?

I will be going to college in just over a year and I need to start saving.. What’s the best way to do that? I think I have a problem with spending money.

richmama answers:





Lizzie asks…

What’s a good way to save money in college?

Is putting refund check in a saving account a good idea? What are some other ideas to save money for college expenses and to have money in my pocket. Anything is good except on-campus jobs since I don’t stay on campus. What other kinds of jobs to people typically work while in college?

richmama answers:

Intern job,ROTC(pay for everything), by the way it might be a good idea to put money in a saving account because when people look at your account they will automatically think you are a rich guy (lots of money in bank) and you will getting less for financial aid(if you eligible).

Linda asks…

what are the best ways to save money while in college in the US? specifics, please!?

anything goes: specific stores / websites that sell cheap stuff; ways to save on food, dorm expenses, etc; where, when and how to shop; where to eat. i would really appreciate specific and detailed answers, thanks a mill!

richmama answers: will compare textbook prices at all different websites (ebay,, barnes & noble) so you can make sure you are getting a good price without going to each individual website. Cut coupons from the paper, shop at thrift stores, go to the library for books & movie entertainment (no cost!) instead of video rental stores, etc.

Sandy asks…

Ways to Save Money in college?

I’m on an army rotc scholarship, which covers room, full tuition, and fees, and $300 a month (goes up each year) and $600 cash a semester for books.

I also get 2500 a year and a freshman book scholarship from the university and i use the 2500 a year for my meal plan.

Some ways i’ve been saving money are….

1) using grocery bags and not buying trash bags
2) Buying the cheap laundry detergent
3) Not eating off campus, and using the “bonus bucks” portion of my meal plan for convenience store items such as milk, lunch, toilet paper, and I’ll soon be buying their laundry detergent
4) taking silverware, napkins, food from the dining hall during dinner
5) selling textbooks that i get new from my scholarship
6) Not buying stuff i don’t need

Any other ways to save or make money for my situation?

richmama answers:

Attend all the “college” or “Job” fairs they have and use the opportunity to collect school supplies. They give away highlighters, pens, pencils, coffee mugs, calculators, post it notes, rulers, tshits, and other stuff you can’t imagine.

Befriend a person who owns a washer and dryer and do your laundry has his/her house.

Garage sales or army surplus for clothes and shoes.

Ideas for Christmas gifts from friends or relatives.
When my baby siblings were in college I would start a “college survival basket” during the month of December. I’d buy a laundry basket, trash can, or backpack and every-time I’d buy a necessity or non perishable food items I’d buy two. Toilet paper, laundry detergent, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, Ramen noodle boxes. They really appreciated it, although it took “outside” family members a bit of time to get used to seeing someone excited to get one of those 300 Fluid Oz of TIDE.
Good Luck.

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Your Questions About Tacky Christmas

Daniel asks…

What to wear to a wakcy tacky christmas party?

I’m have a Christmas party tonight & need some ideas for a wacky tacky outfit. It needs to be a easy idea that I could do at home.

richmama answers:

An idea if you have it is a color coordinated sweat pants(preferably old style with elastic wasted bottoms on the paints kin of deal) and sweat shirt outfit ( decorate the sweatshirt with fabric painted to be holiday themed, or sew of something holiday themed). If you have your ears pierced you could stick bows (for decorating holiday gifts) onto a pair of dangling earrings! Or just an ugly holiday sweater (thrift stores have lots and very cheap prices)! Another idea could be red or green leggings with an over-sized white t shirt.

Betty asks…

Where on the UK highstreet can I buy a tacky Christmas jumper?

Need to get a tacky Christmas jumper for a Christmas party that ideally doesn’t break the bank – I’ve some on eBay but they’re going for thirty / fourty quid!

Ant suggestion would be much appreciated!


richmama answers:

Matalan have some reindeer jumpers/ cardigans in

Carol asks…

what are some good tacky Christmas clothes that i can find around my house?

think 80’s! I’m 14 and my aunt is having a Christmas party tonight. the rules are to dress in tacky Christmas clothes, and i wasn’t even born in the era of the 80’s so I’m in need of some help.

richmama answers:

Hmmm, you can ask your mom if she has any big cheesy holiday sweaters…
Then probably some legwarmers over leggings (red/green) or knee highs (festive pattern) with flats. Skinny jeans with legwarmers works too if it’s cold.

Have fun!!!!!

Robert asks…

Need suggestions for tacky christmas team names for work.?

Our theme is Christmas in Tacky Town so we want our name to be something similar. Any ideas?

richmama answers:

Santas Helpers,the elves, name each one of you the famous reindeer (rudolph donned blixon) , Santas elves, deck the halls, sorry I’m not that great but I can’t think of much right now…… Oh yeah MERRY CHRISTMAS

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How to Do the Holidays on a Budget

How to do the holidays on a budget

Are you ready to do the holiday on a budget and save lots of money?  The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone, especially if you have to live paycheck to paycheck like most of us do these days. Is it really possible to have a good time and purchase the things you want during the holidays on a budget? By cutting a few corners yes, you can have a great holiday season and buy gifts for everyone on your list, even on the tightest budget. Here are a few tips on how to save money during the holidays on a budget.

Holidays on a Budget – Cut your List in Half

People of all ages love receiving gifts, but if you are on an extremely tight budget you can consider just buying gifts for the children in your family instead of buying for a long list of brothers, sisters, in laws, aunts, uncles, cousins…etc. If your family understands your situation no one should mind not getting a gift as long as the kids aren’t left out.

Holidays on a Budget – Bargain Shop

This may be a no-brainer but high priced department stores and the local mall are not the only places you can buy gifts. If you have some people on your list that you just can’t leave out and always buy a little something for, browse through the local dollar stores or even the thrift stores for unique little figurines and trinkets. Many dollar stores will surprise you with the lovely home decorations they offer and you may find a special antique while looking around at a nearby thrift store.

Ebay is another great place to find cheap gift ideas, however these items may not be necessarily cheap if bought elsewhere. You can find something for everyone on your list on the popular auction site,even the kids. Around the holidays many sellers start listing their barely used toys, some still in the original package. You can also find unique gifts that you wouldn&39t be able to find anywhere else such as vintage items, collectables and autographed items from sports teams, actors and musicians.

Home Made Gifts

If you’re crafty you can make home made gifts like floral arrangements, knitted throw blankets, floral wreaths, or handmade jewelry for those on your gift list. Or if you enjoy baking, buy some decorative holiday tins and make a few batches of homemade cookies, brownies, cupcakes or peanut butter fudge. If you&39re not that skilled in the kitchen, buy some bags of various colorful candy and fill up some pretty glass containers. Add some holiday inspired ribbon or stickers for a festive touch.

Buy After the Holidays

One way to save money for next year&39s holiday season is to go clearance shopping once the holidays are over. Then you can buy beautiful decorations at a low discount price. You can also pick up small gifts for next year, or even for upcoming birthdays. Also if you receive a present in a gift bag, save it and reuse. If it is a simple bag it may even be used to hold birthday gifts as well.  These are some great ways to do the holidays on a budget – without feeling like the Grinch.