The summer is quickly coming to a close and schools all over the country will be opening in the weeks ahead. From knowing what you already have to taking advantage of tax holidays, here are 5 simple ways to save on all of your Back to School needs:
1. Take inventory. We usually do ourselves more financial harm than good by running out and buying every school supply we can find. If you found them on sale, wonderful. But wouldn’t it be more wonderful to not waste money, no matter how small or insignificant the amount on stuff your kids don’t even need? Before you go anywhere, take inventory of what you already have and of what you may actually need. Many households already have the paper and pens that kids need to start the school year. So check what's lying around on shelves and in drawers before buying piles more.
In addition, check your kids' closets to figure out what they can still wear and use and what actually does needs to be replaced. In most regions, the weather is still extremely warm until late September. Some summer clothing can be worn with no problem the first several weeks of school. Remember, this isn’t about all the stuff the kids want; it’s about what they need and what you can afford!
2. Make a budget. This will help you stay focused on the back to school shopping list you created after taking stock of what you already own. As you know, most retailers try to jump in on the “Back to School” festivities whether they really cater to students or not. Don’t get side-tracked by gimmicks. Use your inventory list to design a budget and stick to that budget at all costs. If you end up saving even more than you anticipated, then great, you have money left over to go towards saving or maybe even paying off your own student loan debt! Don’t get tricked into spending it on unnecessary items.
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3. Start online. Before you actually go to a store, visit their website first. Look for specials or clearance items which may not be made available in-store. Often times, you can find unadvertised offers or printable coupons to take with you. Office supply store, Staples Inc., for example, has created a website with special back-to-school deals and shopping tips. They’re even selling a $10 "savings pass" until Aug. 13 that gives shoppers 15 percent off school supplies until Sept. 17. Nowadays, you can even scan the weekly circular for your local office store, drug store or grocery store and plan your trip from home. Even if you couldn’t save tons on the actual items you need, you’d definitely save on time and energy!
4. Shop around. Don’t feel obligated to stick to one store and definitely don’t assume that going to one store and avoiding “the cost” of driving to a couple others makes the most sense. The truth is most retailers will only offer a small handful of really great deals. Yes, Target may have the best deal on paper, but it might make more sense to get your glue stick and pens from Office Deport. Sure it may take a little extra time and even an extra dollar or two in gas, but if you save $25+ on items you would have bought anyway isn’t it worth it? Look at it this way; the more you save on the kids, the more you have for something you want later! (wink, wink!) Check out sundaysaver.com for weekly sales circulars and newspaper ads to help you narrow down the search.
5. Take advantage of tax holidays. Some cash-strapped state governments have totally discontinued tax holidays for back-to-school shoppers, so if you’re lucky enough to still have it offered in your neck of the woods, you better take advantage of it! Log onto www.taxadmin.org/fta/rate/sales_holiday.html to see whether your state is among 16 celebrating tax holidays this year. If you live in Los Angeles, Chicago or Atlanta, don’t waste your time. I checked already and California, Illinois and Georgia have discontinued their tax holiday benefits over the last few years.
How do you plan on cutting costs for back-to-school shopping? I'd love to hear from you!
Until Next Time,
Seek Wisdom, Find Wealth & Be Blessed!