Parents everywhere are getting excited because it’s almost time for kids to head back to school. However, some parents might be dreading the expenses that come with sending their children back to school. There’s the new clothes, shoes, backpack, jacket, school supplies, lunch money, etc.
It’s a good idea to take inventory of what you already have and can still use for this upcoming school year. Then, you’ll know exactly what you need to buy and you won’t run the risk of over shopping and overspending. Let’s discuss some other ways to save money!
Here’s a Few Money-Saving Tips for Back to School Shopping:
- Buy only what you need – Each year the teachers usually hand out a School Supply list as a recommended guide for what the kids will need that school year. You can cross things off your list that you already have, and then only purchase things on the list. Extra supplies will probably never get used and just leave your pockets empty.
- Look for the “end of summer” sales – This is where online comparison shopping can come in handy. That blue gel pen at Best Buy might be two times cheaper at Wal-Mart or Kmart. Take a look online before heading out to the actual stores, and you’ll know that you just got that trapper keeper for the best possible price! Do kids still use trapper keepers or am I showing my age?
- Ask for price-matching at the store – Staples claims that the retail giant is offering the lowest prices anywhere on back-to-school supplies. If there’s any uncertainty, they will back it up with a 100% price-match guarantee. If you can find an item priced for less anywhere else then Staples will give you the difference, plus 10% off. Use policies like this to your advantage!
- Shop at places that honor future markdowns – Check on the store’s price adjustment policy, you may be able to save on items that are marked down after you buy them. The savings can be most significant when purchasing clothes. Make sure that you check with each store to find out what their return policy and price adjustment policy are before you buy.
- Take back supplies if they are NOT being used in a month or two – If you went over budget on school supplies this year, frequently check to see if there are any items that your child has not used yet or even refuses to use now. Kids’ tastes change and grow as much as they do. If you notice that some clothes are going unworn, or some supplies are not opened, try taking them back to the stores to get some money back.
- Buy the pricey items after school has already begun – It’s a good idea to grab some school supplies for the first week, but try to wait on going clothes shopping until later. If your kid needs to have a new outfit for the first day or first week of school, shop the great summer sales. It will still be warm enough for them to wear summer clothes. After that, towards the end of September, start shopping for those new fall and winter outfits. They will probably be marked down, and you’ll save more money.
- Refashion what you can – If your child is bored with last year’s clothes, find ways to refashion them into the clothes that he or she wants now. Jeans can be updated with funky patches, paint, and sequins. T-shirts can be snipped, tied and tweaked into all-new designs. Skirts can be shortened or lengthened for an instant update. Just use your creativity to come up with something fun and new! Here are a few good ideas: http://www.listotic.com/33-clever-ways-to-refashion-your-clothes/
- Have a clothing swap – Just because your child is sick of her clothes, doesn’t mean her friends will be. Host a back-to-school clothing swap with some of your kid’s friends and their mothers. Then, sit back and watch as your daughter and her friend’s swap their way to the looks that they want. This can work for boys as well if they are open to the idea.
- Trade in last year’s clothes – Gather up all those wardrobe rejects, and trade them in for this year’s school clothes. Stores like Once Upon a Child and Plato’s Closet will take your lightly worn clothes in exchange for cash or store credits. It’s like getting to spend the same money again and again. Other possibilities: Sell your kid’s clothes in a consignment sale, yard sale or on an auction site like eBay.
- Shop all year round – The back-to-school season doesn’t have to send you into a shopping frenzy. Look for good clothing deals all year round, and you may be able to skip the back-to-school crowds and sticker-shock all together.
- Don’t shop too early or too late – Most stuff will go on sale in July and August. If you have your child’s list of school supplies over the summer, begin shopping as soon as you see school supplies go on sale. That’s usually after the 4th of July. If you wait too long, the best bargains will sell out. Check out these awesome back-to-school deals going on now: http://www.passionforsavings.com/back-to-school/
- Buy in bulk – Don’t forget to stock up for the whole year, but put away what’s not needed now in a place you can find it later in the school year, but where the kids won’t break into stuff every time they’ve misplaced something.
- Save your receipts – Teachers sometimes ask for very specific brand items on school supply lists. From an adult point of view, it might seem like another item is close enough to the requested item. But school is a much more disciplined place than the adult world. Teachers often have organizational reasons for the specific requests. Take the school supply list seriously and make sure to save the receipts in case you got the wrong thing and need to exchange something.
- Let kids help with using saved money from chores – Kids can be resistant to reusing last year’s backpack or lunchbox or wearing older clothes. Maybe they are hankering for a fancy new binder that everyone has this year. If this attitude is affecting your efforts to save money on school supplies, give kids a budget. Explain to them that you’ll spend a certain amount on an item, and if they want an upgrade they’ll need to chip in using the money they’ve saved by doing their household chores.
As summer winds down, parents are busy with requests from their kids for back-to-school items while at the same time they are working on buying the supply list provided by the school. All this stress on top of having to shell out tons of money to pay for everything can be really overwhelming to some parents and families. But there are always ways to save money and spend frugally. It may take more time and some planning, but it’ll be worth it when your kid hops on the school bus with everything they’ll need to help further their education.
If you need help budgeting or getting out of debt to help ease the burden of back to school shopping, then give us a call at 1-866-699-2227 or visit us online at www.advantageccs.org and ask about our Debt Management Program today!