Studies say that the average parent spends $500 per child on school supplies. Get these useful back-to-school shopping saving hacks to help secure all the needed school supplies for your child without hurting your pocket.
Back-to-school shopping can be very expensive. Other parents are having a hard time budgeting their cash financials this time of the year. You're smart to look for ways to save money.
Here are some tips that will help you save on your back-to-school shopping.
Set a budget and stick to it
Setting a budget for back-to-school shopping will save you from making unnecessary purchases in the heat of the moment. By spending time over summer planning your family's finances, you can be sure that when school rolls around again, you'll have money set aside to purchase essentials for everyone without going into debt.
If you plan how much you're going to spend, and how many items you want to buy, it's easier to stay within your budget. Before start shopping, decide what your budget is set at and stick with it. Don't run into an “impulse” buying spree. While in the store, avoid wandering up and down every aisle because this can easily add more than 50% of extra time spent in the store (and) may lead you spending too much money, or even overspending your budget.
Learn About Sales and Deals Early
One way to ensure savings is to shop online for large items before heading out into the store parking lot on your weekend back-to-school shopping trip. Virtually, all major retailers offer opportunities on their websites for comparison shopping, as well as coupons and special offers that might not be available in stores or catalogs. Saving money is easy if parents take advantage of these options before they go out to shop.
Before making a big purchase, research other stores and internet prices to make sure you're getting the best deal possible. Its smart to wait until the very last minute or even walk into the store on the first day of school with your kids if there's something missing from your shopping list to take advantage of sales.
Shop In-Season and Take Advantage of Coupons
Buy clothes for back-to-school season when they're on sale because this is a great way to save money as well as clean out your child's wardrobe so that he doesn't need an excessive amount of clothes during school that will be worn only once before being stored away again.
If you're going to buy something anyway, it doesn't hurt to look for coupons because they can help save you a lot of money. Coupons can be found in magazines, newspapers and online at coupon sites like RetailMeNot. The more you use coupons, the more you will realize how much money you are actually saving during your back-to-school shopping time.
Bundle Up on School Supplies
Look for stores or even online shops that offers “bundles” like Macy's Back-2-School bundles which gives shoppers a discount when purchasing four selected items from a select group including school supplies, clothes, shoes and electronics.
Buying in bundles can save you money. When buying school supplies, try to get items that students need for the entire year in one purchase. To maximize savings, use coupons and/or shop when back-to-school products are on sale.
Choose Generic Brands When Back-to-School Shopping
Another tip is to choose store brands over name brands because they are usually less expensive. You can also ask your kids' teachers about possible freebies from their classrooms such as certain pens or notebooks. If you're looking for cheap office supplies and accessories, look no further than Walmart's website. They have a great selection of everything you need at discounted prices.
Generic brand items are often less expensive than their name-brand counterparts, and they work just as well in the classroom or on the sports field. Shop carefully for your favorite varieties of back-to-school must haves on your school's website and be sure to compare prices with other schools across town or even online to make sure you're getting the lowest possible rates.
Be aware that generic products will differ from their brand namesakes in size, shape and packaging and sometimes, there can be small differences in terms of quality as well, so stick with an item that works best for you compared to its more expensive counterpart rather than a cheaper alternative that is sub-par.
Buy School Supplies in One Go
It is often possible to save a great deal of money on back-to-school shopping by buying clothes and school supplies in one trip. In addition to the usual discounts offered at such shops, it is sometimes also possible to take advantage of sales or coupons specific to stationary items or clothing that can be used for both purchases. Many mom-and-pop stores will also offer savings programs that enable parents to accrue points towards school supply purchases; once enough points have been accrued, they can then be cashed in for future use on similar goods without requiring further payment from the shopper. If you need help with planning your back-to-school shopping budget, you might want to consult a retail expert in your area.
Shop After the Kids are Asleep
Retailers often offer special night time hours for parents who need to work around their children's school activities, and small neighborhood shops will also sometimes stay open past normal business hours if they know that a lot of customers will be coming through during that time period. If you don't have access to shopping at these times due to child-care responsibilities or other obligations, it might be worthwhile speaking with the management team at your favorite shop and see if you can set up special arrangements to accommodate your busy lifestyle.
Know What Your Kids Need Before Shopping for Them
In order to save on your back-to-school shopping, know and list down what your kids need before shopping for them. By creating a list, you will be able to stick to it. You can purchase only the items that are on your list and you can avoid buying unnecessary items that will cost more than what is written on your budget. Do not allow your kids to see their shopping lists as they tend to add things which are not initially included in the list.
If you have enough time, do your online research before going into stores for back-to-school shopping. This way, there won't be any surprises when you get there and can probably save money by knowing exactly what's on sale and what isn't, thus making sure that when you're in store you aren't wasting time trying everything on or debating over whether something is worth the price or not.
While there are many different bargains to be had while back-to-school shopping, it is still important to stick with your budget. Don't overbuy supplies that will go unused and don't make impulse purchases simply because you feel the need to get something for your kids or their teachers.
If you aren't sure what things might work best for each student in the family, speak directly to their teachers and ask them what they recommend. This way you can avoid unnecessary duplicates and ensure everyone receives exactly what they need without having too much of anything on hand later on. There's no sense in paying full price if items are going unused, especially after you've already purchased all the required materials.
Read the Entire Money Saving Series
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About the Author
Joseph Hogue is a financial expert and investment analyst. After serving in the Marine Corps, he started his career investing in real estate before becoming an investment analyst for some of the largest private investors. He's appeared on Bloomberg and on CNBC as an investment expert and has published ten books in personal finance. Now he helps investors reach their financial goals and invest in the stock market with some of the same advice he used when working for the rich.