Families don’t have to break the bank or lose their sanity when going back-to-school shopping. With some planning, they can save money and time whether shopping for kindergarteners or college students.
Consumer Reports offers a back-to-school shopping guide, which includes advice on how to choose the best school supplies and gear. Here are some of the money-saving tips:
- Gather supplies you already have
Sort through last year’s school supplies. There’s a good chance you will find items like notebooks, plastic rulers, and pencils that were never used or in decent shape.
- Make a shopping list and stick to it
Using a list helps shoppers stay on budget and be productive. Use the list of required supplies from your children’s school and don’t waste money on items not on the list.
Retailers promote loss leaders to draw customers into a store where they are likely to buy other goods. Examples: 10 notebooks for a dollar, a bag of ink pens for a dime. If the low-priced items are on your back-to-school shopping list, buy them right away.
- Use coupons and store reward programs
Back-to-school coupons can be found all over — weekly newspaper inserts, at the front of stores, on store websites, and Facebook. Many office supply stores offer reward cards to customers. Combine sales, coupons, rebates, and rewards to save big.
- Compare prices and price-match
Take advantage of the price-matching policy at large department stores, electronics retailers, and office supply stores. The policy promises to match the lowest advertised price on any brand-name products it sells. Just remember bring ads from everywhere else with you.
Shop for school supplies and clothes during a state-tax holiday. That’s when some states lift the tax on certain items, usually for just a few days. Go to the Federation of Tax Administrators website to find out if and when your state participates.
Late summer is prime season for sales at dollar stores and art supply stores — where you can shop for pencils, crayons, paints, notebooks, and similar items. It’s also a time when many consignment stores have their best selection of gently used clothes.
Author: Darice Britt