The calendar may start on the first of January, but for families with school-aged children the real ‘New Year’ is the day your kids head back to school. To your kids, shopping for new clothes, gear, and school supplies to celebrate the ‘New Year’ may be the only good thing about going back to school. Here are 12 great ideas for back to school shopping.
Make A List in Advance
You’d better to make a list of necessary clothing and school supplies in advance, so you don't forget anything and don't feel compelled to buy extras. Before making the list, you can check with parents at your school who have older kids. They might have good advice about what is required in your child's grade.
Sort through what your children have and what they still need. Try on last year's clothes before going shopping to see what still fits and what needs to be trashed. But don't go overboard when getting rid of clothes. Many items, especially classic pieces in good condition, can be repurposed or passed down to younger siblings.
Set A Reasonable Budget And Get Your Kids Involved
Set a budget that is achievable and stick to it. Extras will probably never get used and just leave your pockets empty. Sit down with your child and go over your shopping list together. Get kids involved in budgeting so they understand how much things cost. You'll be teaching her/him how to get organized, a skill that applies to more than shopping.
What’s more, get your kids into the recycling habit. Now that environmentally friendly living is a hot topic, it's easier than it used to be to convince trend-savvy kids that reusing an item is cooler than buying a new one.
Find Deals Online
To avoid the chaos at the malls and save money on school supplies and clothes, you can search for online coupons, free shipping offers and stores with ‘buy one, get one free’ incentives. If you must leave the house, try to consolidate your shopping to one destination so you don't waste time and gas driving in circles.
Lost school supplies may be a given, but gear that's hard to miss can stave off the inevitable. Pack all their pencils, erasers, and other goodies into a bright backpack or pencil pouch to keep them from disappearing.
Shop Tax Free
States with sales tax holidays save you money on everything from paper to computers. Each state sets its own rules on which products are eligible and spending limits per item.
Save more money during sales tax holidays with a little prep time. Check neighboring states with tax free days, rules on coupon use and stores with the big ticket items on sale to map out your shopping strategy before the frenzied crowd of parents hits the mall.
Buy Basics In Bulk
You know you'll need paper, pencils, glue sticks and notebooks. Dollar stores, warehouse stores and even eBay are sources for buying these and other basics in bulk. You and a group of other parents might be able to negotiate a group discount from an office supply store.
Shop All Year
Keep an eye on school supplies all year to make the most of deep discounts. You know your kids will always need pencils, paper and staples for school. A quick glance at the sales papers or even the impulse buy when you spot a great bargain will help you stay ahead.
Take Advantage of Layaway
Using layaway makes you a savvy shopper for a couple of reasons.
First, you can pay on school supplies and clothing slowly over time instead of having to come up with a lump sum all at once. This saves you money in the long run if you tend to carry a balance on your credit card.
The second reason layaway can be a money-saver is through tax free holidays. Some states allow layaways to be exempt from tax. Items you put in layaway before the tax holiday could be free from tax if you pay them off during the tax free period.
Stockpile Seasons Ahead
Both retail stores and outlets need to move merchandise fast as one season comes to a close and another is about to begin. By thinking ahead, you can walk away with clothes for a few dollars.
Watch for sales and buy the size your child will be next year. Stockpiling clothes you've bought ahead of time will really maximize your savings.
Use Cash Back Incentives
Using credit cards with cash back incentives gives you money back on every purchase. You must use these types of cards wisely.
Throw a Back-to-School Swap Party
Raid your closets for last year's back-to-school supplies and clothes your children can't wear anymore. Invite friends and neighbors over for a back-to-school swap party. The pencil box your child wanted last fall may still look brand new. He may not want it anymore but your neighbor's child does. Even pocket folders with slightly worn edges can be someone else's treasure. A swap party gives you the chance to recycle school supplies and clothes just sitting around your house while also keeping your money in your purse.