Summer break is almost over and by this time you are probably ready to send your little ones back to school. Unfortunately, preparing for the school year can wreak havoc on your wallet. But with these back to school shopping tips, you can conquer this daunting task without breaking the bank.
Set a Budget Well in Advance
Don't wait until the week before school starts to look at your finances and decide what you can afford to spend. Start planning a month or two in advance and allocate resources accordingly. That way, you'll know exactly how much cash you have to work with.
Make a List and Check It Twice
Make a list of everything your student will need before shopping. Remember, the keyword here is "need." Some items to include on your list: school supplies, apparel, footwear, backpack, lunch box, and so on. Check with your child's school district or school website as they provide school supply lists for parents.
Wait For The Sales
You may want to start shopping right away to get a head start and avoid the crowds. The problem is the best back-to-school sales usually don't surface until late July and early August. So, it pays to wait a bit before hitting the stores.
Download Money-Saving Apps
Here are just a few Apps to consider, available on Android and iOS:
Cartwheel by Target
This app grants you access to 5% to 50% off select items. Just scan the barcode on your smartphone at the checkout counter.
Walmart's Savings Catcher (within the Walmart app)
Scan your receipt and receive a refund of the price difference on items available at a cheaper price through competitors.
Retale puts all the sales circulars, coupons, and best deals in one place to make bargain-shopping a breeze.
It allows you to earn "kicks" that can be redeemed for gift cards, simply by scanning items and submitting your receipts.
Think Outside the Box
Walmart and Staples aren't the only places to score the best deals on back-to-school items. If you keep your options open, you could land great deals at CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid, for example. And on occasion, major grocery store chains — like Winn-Dixie, Kroger, and Publix — offer deals as well. Also, consider consignment shops and uniform exchange programs for discounted apparel.
If you'd prefer to avoid the stores altogether, you could always shop from your desktop, tablet, or even smartphone. Just be sure to subscribe to your favorite retailers' mailing lists and follow them on social media, so you'll be in the know about sales and special promotions.
Keep Your Receipts
What if the backpack strap breaks on the first day of school or those shorts you picked up are too small?These are all valid reasons for keeping your receipts. Plus, some companies offer extended warranties and rebates that you can redeem by sending in the receipt.
Shop During a Sales Tax Holiday
Let's not forget about Sales Tax Day! Sales tax is another cost that can push your back-to-school shopping over budget. To save a little extra dough, you could wait until the sales tax holiday to get all your shopping done. The Sales Tax Institute provides a comprehensive listing, by state, of sales tax holiday dates.
Source: Deal News