By Kelly Hodges
As the calendar flips to August, families across the country begin gearing up for the start of yet another school year. And while the kids may groan about summer coming to an end, parents brace for the back to school shopping blitz that occurs this time of year.
Back to school is the second largest shopping season behind Christmas, with retailers expecting to rake in over $30 billion dollars this year according to the National Retail Federation. In fact, the average family with children in grades K-12 will spend around $688 to get them ready for class. Parents of children in school will always have expenses with the start of the school year, but there are a few ways to stock up and save in the process.
1. Make a list of needs. Write down everything that your kids need for the school year including school supplies, clothing, shoes, backpacks, and any computer related equipment. This will help give you an overview of the essentials so you can make an appropriate budget.
2. Make (and stick to) a budget. This step will make sure you don’t go overboard during the back to school sales season. Have your kids help create the budget as a lesson in money management. If they really want those expensive shoes then they’ll have to cut back on clothes spending, or if they must have the latest brand name backpack then they’ll have less to spend on their shoes. If your kids can’t find a way to reconcile everything they want within the budget, then have them chip in some of their own money or earn extra money by doing jobs around the house.
3. Watch for sales. The best way to stretch a budget is to shop the sales. This time of year offers great deals on all the necessary school supplies as well as clothing and other essentials if you are willing to put in the extra effort. Yes it’s easier to make one trip to the mall and buy everything on the list, but if you have more than one child and you are willing to make a few extra trips over the next few weeks to buy items as they are on sale, you can save quite a bit. Also check out if your state participates in a tax free weekend. If so, try and shop those tax free days so you won’t have to pay sales tax on your purchases!
4. Shop online. Remember that brick and mortar stores won’t necessarily give you the best deals. Make sure to comparison shop online, especially for bigger purchases like computers. Look for online promo codes for extra savings or free shipping. Plus, if you use a cashback program like Ebates you can save even more by getting a percentage of your purchase back in cash!
5. Wait till after school starts. Yes you will need your pens and pencils by the time the first bell rings, but you don’t necessarily need your full fall wardrobe assembled by the first day of school. Once school is in session there will be major discounts on everything back to school. Look at your list and see if there are items you can delay purchasing until prices plummet; this way you can stretch your dollar even further.
There’s still some summer fun left, so enjoy it while it lasts. Good luck with that school shopping parents!
Any opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not in any way represent the views or opinions of her employer or any other person or entity.