Yes, we still have weeks to go, but parents, it’s already time to start thinking about back to school supplies. Several retailers have already kicked off sales. Wal Mart has it’s College 2011 section listed on it’s website and Staples launched its Back to School Center with 15% off all season long. Now, with all that said, don’t let retailers dictate what and how you spend your money. Here are some tips I suggest to save you time and money:
- Plan ahead and prepare a budget-Many school districts already have supply lists online, so check them out now if you can.
- Inventory last year’s stuff-It may be painful, but go through the desks, dirty back packs 🙂 and see what you can salvage. Why waste money on crayons if you have a good pack left?
- Shop the closet first-The same is true for clothes. The real purpose of buying news one (especially for smaller children) is that they out grow the older ones. If your child can still get a few more wears out of those sneakers, stick with them. You may be able to find an even better deal after the BTS rush is over. Don’t forget about hand me downs from older siblings or relatives.
- Now and Later-Like the name of the candy suggests, shop some now, and some later based on sales. There are often great deals (especially at drug stores) on products like Clorox wipes, Kleenex, paper towels…and yes, those are on supply lists these days, so when you see a good deal, snag it and save it for school. As we get closer to back to school, watch the sale circulars for $1 and even penny deals on items.
- Shop Around-Comparison shopping is critical on any purchase, so why should this be different? If you’re willing to put the time in, look at sale circulars, websites and even your favorite savings blogs to catch the best deals.
- Take Advantage of Rebates-These aren’t always the easiest method to saving, but it’s worth it if you take the time to do it. Last year I got a more than $30 back pack for free just by entering my rebate online.
- Check outlet prices-While I’m still not truly convinced outlets have better deals on everything, there are some really good savings there. If you’re traveling, and there’s an outlet nearby, check it out. I bought new shoes like this two years in a row on clearance, so the deal was even sweeter. One of my good friends just found Nautica jackets for less than $17 for boys and less than $4 for toddlers…talk about a steal on the latter!
- Shop online and in-store for electronics-Laptops, televisions, etc. are certainly the big ticket items for back to school. If you’re in the market for electronics, check online and in-store prices before you buy. I would also advise looking at reviews before making the purchase.
- Have teens chip in-For kids going off to college or older high school students, have them help plan and pay for some of what they need. Many have worked summer jobs and can get a good lesson in budgeting if they’re involved in the process.