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Published on August 14th, 2008 | by Stephanie Evans

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Budget-Friendly Back-to-School Starter

For students of all ages, going back to school means early mornings, shorter days, and homework.  It also means seeing old friends, learning interesting facts, and discovering a world of exciting new possibilities.

Just as with any life transition, returning to school provides an opportunity to revisit old habits to ensure that lifestyle choices are environmental, as well as budget friendly…

Back to School

Transportation

Each year comes with new travel challenges, whether it is getting your child to school even earlier than the year before, persuading a high schooler to ride the school bus, or finding a more convenient, cost-effective way to make it to night classes.

Luckily, there are a variety of low impact ways to ensure a timely arrival before class begins..

  • Walk. Some schools, especially smaller elementary schools, are located near the homes of students.  Although it may be dangerous for young children to walk to school on their own, consider sending a chaperone.  Parents can take turn making the daily walk, or often there are siblings who can be trusted to ensure safe arrival.
  • Bike. That shiny blue bike is not just for looks.  Although often viewed as a toy for younger children, the bike is also a convenient means of transportation.
  • Bus. Many public schools offer free daily buses for all students in the district.  Take advantage of the service—bus rides are a great opportunity for students to socialize and make friends.  City buses are also a convenient option in some areas, and small children and students often ride at discounted rates.
  • Carpool. To save the time and gas spent waiting in driveways, consider choosing a central meeting location, much the same as a bus stop.  For parents of high schoolers, consider letting your child ride with a friend, or letting others ride with your child.  However, new drivers are easily distracted, so make sure the driver is responsible and competent.  Looking for a carpool buddy?
    • Try joining the eRideShare community to make local carpool connections.
    • Check your state’s Department of Transportation website for a carpool matching program.

Of course, these options work best for the daily commute.  Sending a young adult off to college requires special preparation and consideration.  Instead of flying to a distant university, consider making a vacation out of it.  Not only will parents have the chance to meet their child’s roommates and peers, but driving produces fewer emissions than flying.

Driving also allows you to load up the car with college necessities, reducing the need to buy duplicates of what you already own at home.  Ride shares and buses are also efficient options for the light packer.

Supplies

Buying the tools for school can often be an expensive chore.  Armed with these simple tips, you’ll multitask by saving funds and sparing resources for the planet.

  • Quality. Cheap supplies are often poorly made.  Invest in a high quality product that can be used for years to come and used by each child.
  • Used. Teachers often require the same equipment each year.  Ask your neighbors with older children if they have any extra supplies.  Institute a recycling program where supplies unused at the end of the previous year can be reused the following year.
  • Library. School and public libraries often have more resources than you think.  Many schools have a limited supply of textbooks as well as calculators that can be loaned to students.

When planning your budget, make sure you remember that many items can be used for years, such as backpacks and calculators.  Other necessities, such as clothes for the growing child, will probably only be used for a couple of years.  Visit Stretch the Lifespan of Your Clothing for some ideas on how to get the most wear from clothes.

With the right tools and transportation system, every school-goer should be set for success!





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