Back to school shopping can be stressful. But with just a little planning before hand, it doesn’t have to be.
Before you go out to shop, take a look at the following tips. They are more like guidelines to help keep you on track and prevent you from overspending during this busy shopping season.
1. Shop Alone
Don’t take the kids with you. Yes, this is easier said than done. If you want to go to the store and you don’t have a sitter, wait until you do. In fact, schedule with a sitter so you can do the shopping trip alone.
Kids have a way of enticing things out of you like that brand name pair of jeans or a cool notebook with Disney characters on it. They can wear you down, especially in crowded stores when you are tired.
2. Shop When Well Rested
Just like you shouldn’t go to the grocery store when you are hungry, don’t go school shopping when you are tired. You are less likely to stick to your list that way.
In your frustration and haste, you may throw anything in the cart just to get out of the store. When you can think clearly, you will be more inclined to stick to your game plan.
3. Comparison Shop at Home
Before you jump in your car, hit the computer and the newspaper for deals. Each week, scan papers for what you need. If you find it at a great discount price, circle it and hit the shops.
4. Create a Budget
When people shop for back to school items, they can spend several hundred dollars – and that is just on clothing.
Decide how much each child will be entitled to spend on clothing. Come up with a ballpark figure for school supplies for all secondary school-age kids. Stick to it as much as possible.
A rule of thumb is to use current prices as your guide to come up with your budget. If prices drop, you save money.
5. Buy in Bulk
Wherever possible, buy in bulk. This will mostly apply to school supplies and undergarments. You can never have too much underwear or pencils.
This is not considered overbuying because they will always be used. Extra can be used at school or donated to stores collecting for needy kids who can’t buy school supplies.
6. Avoid Overbuying
This tip mostly applies to notebooks, binders, backpacks and specialized supplies. School lists change from year to year, so you can cut back on everything but the basics until school officially starts and you get the word on what to buy.
Also, when you overbuy, some money is wasted if you don’t utilize the supplies the next year.
7. Inventory What You Already Have
Another good point – use what you have so you can buy less this year. Go through the garage and your kids’ closets. There might be unused binders, notebooks or even book covers lurking around. That is money that can be saved and used toward some other purchase.
8. Use Cash
Plastic is versatile but it can also lead to excess spending. When all you have to do is flash your credit card, you are more likely to buy that extra purchase you didn’t plan on making. Using cash is a good indicator that you will stop buying when you are out of money.
9. Buy Quality Products
Cheaper is not always better. Look for quality in your purchases, especially clothing. In the interest of durability, buy a well-made shirt that will last for a couple of years instead of one that will rip after a few washings. There is more than one way to waste money.
10. Follow the Plan
Don’t feel pressured to buy from one place. Part of shopping around for prices is to hit the stores that offer you a good deal. One store is not going to have it all. If there are significant savings in driving to another store, then the gas will be worth it.