July 30, 2013

Money Saving Back-to-School Shopping Tips

Believe it or not, the summer is more than half-way over and school is getting ready to start back up. If you’re like me, this causes you feelings of both anxiety and excitement. Excitement because school is starting back up and you get some free time back, but anxiety because you have a lot to do before school starts back up…

For me, the most time consuming thing regarding back-to-school preparations is shopping for school supplies. This is especially true when I bring the kiddos along. Not only is it a time-consuming process, but it can be an expensive process too. Below are a few of the ways that I’ve learned to save money as I shop for school supplies for the little ones.

1.      Shop the Sales – Now is the time when you will start to see stores advertising school supplies going on sale. If you have an idea of what your child will need, then go ahead and buy the items when they go on sale. Yes, you will have to make multiple trips as different items go on sale at different times, but when you total up your costs, it’s often worth the extra hassle.

2.       Shop Online – This is one of my favorite ways to buy back-to-school items for my son, especially since he’s five and so indecisive on things. I watch the online sales from some of my favorite stores, narrow down his options and then present him with the “would you like the shark back pack here or would you prefer the angry birds back pack here?” type questions. In fact, I just did this the other night. I was going to order a back pack from pottery barn, but then decided that since he is only five, I would let him pick one from ebay. He chose an Angry Birds backpack with matching lunch box. The best part was that it was about $20 cheaper than the one I would have bought from pottery barn…and he’s happier with the cheaper one!
3.      Take Advantage of Credit Card Rewards – I don’t like debt and don’t advocate charging up a credit card in order to by non-essential items. That being said, I do take full advantage of the credit card rewards offered by the two credit cards I have. I have a Chase Freedom card and it offers me at least 1% cash back on EVERY purchase, but there are stores partnered with Chase where I can earn up to 15% cash back. Currently, one of those stores is Kohl’s. I love shopping for my son’s clothes at Kohl’s…especially their clothing sections. So, as you may have already guessed, I bought some new shirts, shorts and socks for my son online today. I saved time because I didn’t leave the house and little man wasn’t with me and I saved money! Therefore, if you have any credit cards or store cards that offer rewards for using them, consider using them for back-to-school shopping. Just make sure that you take the amount spent directly out of your checking account and apply it to your card to ensure you don’t rack up a balance you can’t pay! 

4.      Use Coupons – A while back I shared with you how easy it is to save money with coupons. Take the time to clip the coupons out of the fliers in the Sunday paper and match them up with store sales. You may not be buying school supplies with them, but the money you save with these coupons can be used for purchasing school supplies. It takes time, but it is very well worth it!

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