Just as you’re settling into the laid-back summer routine, retailers start rolling out their back-to-school displays, which may open that pit of dread into your stomach. Supply lists. New clothing. Backpacks, jeans, laptops and school shoes: It’s endless. And it’s so expensive!
In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, the average American parent will spend upward of $700 per child this shopping season.
If that’s enough to put a damper on your summer plans, take a deep breath and relax. You don’t need to spend yourself into debt just because everyone else seems to be doing it. Instead, take a proactive, mindful approach when shopping for the new school year and spend hundreds less than the national average. Let United Texas Credit Union show you how!
1.) Do a house-wide sweep
Before you spend a penny, scour your closets and drawers to see what you have lying around the house. Round up all the supplies and list everything you’ve found. Keep the list handy so that you don’t forget what you have and end up buying things you don’t need.
Also, while digging through your kids’ closets, sort and purge. This way, their closets won’t be cluttered with junk and you’ll know exactly what each child needs.
2.) Get the teacher-approved school supply list
Pay close attention to specifics on the supply list sent home by your child’s teacher or found at major retailers. This will prevent you from being forced to later repurchase supplies that fit the teacher’s criteria.
3.) Spread your back to school purchases
Spreading your back-to-school shopping throughout the summer will allow you to take advantage of weekly sales. Also, by scattering your purchases, you won’t feel the financial squeeze as much as you would if you bought everything at once.
4.) Shop the dollar store
Before hitting the big-box stores and their big-box prices, scour your local dollar store for school supply treasures that will only cost a buck.
5.) Get backpacks at Hollar.com, eBags.com or 6PM.com
Don’t spend a fortune on your child’s book bag without checking out these sites. If your child is set on having a character backpack this year, check out Hollar.com for a great selection at really low prices. Does your little one have designer taste? Try eBags.com or 6PM.com for brand-name bags at a fraction of their regular price.
6.) Shop tax-free
Many states offer tax-free holidays on clothing, footwear, and/or school supplies during the back-to-school shopping season to ease the financial burden of cash-strapped parents. Take full advantage by shopping during these days.
7.) Utilize in-store price matching
Many stores you may be visiting this season offer in-store price matching or will even match/beat a competitor’s lower price.
Read through this list so you know when to ask for a better price:
Staples will match a lower price on an identical item and throw in an additional 10 percent discount.
Kohl’s will offer you the same price as a competitor as long as you bring in the competition’s ad.
JCPenney will give you back 5 percent of your purchase price if you find an identical item with a lower price elsewhere.
8.) Find the best prices
Hunt for specials in the weekly circulars and look up coupons and deals online, on a site like RetailMeNot. In addition, you can also check out PriceGrabber or use the ShopSavvy app to find the lowest possible price on an item.
9.) Follow stores on Twitter and Facebook
Your smartphone is going to be your BFF this season. Use it to follow your favorite stores on Facebook and Twitter and you’ll be gifted with notices about sale events, plus coupon links to help you save more.
10.) Save through Ebates
When you buy through Ebates, you earn cash back on every purchase. You’ll also find exclusive deals and offers on the site. You can shop major stores like Macy’s, Walmart and Kohl’s on Ebates. It’s like getting paid to shop!
11.) Time your shopping
For the best budget mileage, learn the markdown cycle of your favorite stores, especially clothing shops. For example, Target offers discounts on children’s clothing every Monday, TJ Maxx posts new markdowns on Wednesdays, and you’ll want to hit Kohl’s between 3 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. on Saturday to take advantage of their “Power Hour” super-deals.
Purchase what your child needs for now, and save the rest for later. You’ll find deep discounts on fall clothing just a few weeks into the school year.
12.) Set limits
Every year there’s a must-have school supply or clothing trend that costs a bundle. Set limits. Allow your child to choose one or two pricier items – but that’s it!
Your Turn: Do you have a great back-to-school shopping hack? We’d love to hear it! Share your best tips with us in the comments.
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