Tis the season for back to school supplies. Parents everywhere are facing this time with a mixture of joy and dread. The summer will soon be over, and how on earth will they pay for all of the stuff that there kids need?
If they are smart, budget-conscious consumers, they may try using the following strategies to bring the cost of needed school supplies down to just pennies on the dollar.
Shop Multiple Stores
Retail stores are fighting hard to get your back to school dollar, but not all sales are created equal. That is why if you want to get the lowest prices on your school supplies, you may have to shop around, purchasing notebooks at one store, crayons at another, and a calculator at a third.
Use Reward Cards
Reward cards can get your more of your money back or offer you member only discounts. Practically every store that sells items for school offer some sort of reward card. Sears has a free card that offers points on each purchase that translate into dollars toward new purchases. Target gives 5 percent back with their red card and Staples has a card you can purchase that will give you a discount off of your school supplies.
Work from the School Supply List
Before you start shopping for a single school supply first check the official school supply list. Usually available on your school’s website or through email, it will list exactly what supplies you need for each grade or class and how many of each. In some cases, your list may also list brands. By working from a list, you will make sure that you get exactly what you need without overbuying.
Shop Your Home
Chances are that you may already have at least some of the school supplies that your kids need right at home. Maybe you over bought last year, or maybe you can take some supplies straight from your office. Whatever items that can be marked off of your list just by shopping at home are items that you don’t have to pay for later.
Get Special Discounts
If you are a teacher or in the military, most retail stores will give you a discount off of the total cost of your school supplies. All you need to do is to show the cashier a valid ID at the time that you check out. College students may also be entitled to a discount with a valid ID.
Take Your Time
Don’t buy a complete wardrobe all at once. Once kids are actually back in school, all of the clothing made and marketed will go on a deep discount. This could be the difference of just one or two weeks between full price and 50 percent off! Hold off on buying a year’s worth of school clothing all at once. Instead, opt for one or two new outfits, if needed, and then plan on shopping the sales in the coming weeks.
Use Tax-Free Holidays
Maybe states offer at least one tax-free holiday in the weeks leading up to the start of school. These states allow anyone to purchase anything needed for school, from pencils and pens to clothing, without the charge of the usual sales tax. Do all of your shopping that day, and you will naturally save an average cost of six to seven percent.
Buy Only What You Need
It is tempting to purchase school supplies that are not on your list. After all, there are some really cute things, such as the set of erasers that look like miniature cupcakes, or the fuzzy pencils. It gets even harder when you have children with you who want extra stuff to look cool. Stick with the basics and maybe allow one extra item or one upgrade on a standard item. You will see the difference in your budget.