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Back to School Shopping Tips in 2017

Back to School | Solidarity Community Federal Credit UnionIt’s hard to think about back to school when summer is in full swing, but if you have visited any area retailer these last few weeks, you know it is upon us – the Back to School shopping rush!

Don’t get caught up in the hype! Use the following tips to get organized and save money on your Back to School shopping this year.

Plan

Don’t be an impulse shopper! Before you hit the stores, grab that supply list from your child’s school and make a list of all the supplies you need. Don’t forget to include the following:

  • School supplies from supply list
  • Clothing
  • Electronics (this includes computers, phones and calculators)
  • Activities – what will you need for your kids’ fall activities? 
Once you have your master list compiled, do some realistic budgeting based on what you can afford. This will help you make a plan of action on how to get all the items you need within your budget. 

Do a Supply Sweep at Home

Now is the time to start shopping from your own home. Check those backpacks – chances are your little darlings brought home unused or barely used school supplies from last year. Many of the items they did use (binders and plastic folders, for example) can be easily reused again this year. Plus, there’s a good chance there are gently used pens, pencils and such in those pencil bags from last year too!

In addition, go through dresser drawers and closets to check out last year’s clothing. Donate outgrown clothing to a charitable organization (for a tax credit) or look to organize or join a clothing swap with others. You may find that you can swap your kids’ outgrown clothes for other gently used items that will work great for this year.

Follow Your Favorite Stores

Don’t forget to follow your favorite stores on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) for special coupons and discount codes these retailers only share with their social media fans. Combine these codes and coupons with sales and save even more! 

Pick the Perfect Time to Shop

The rush to buy school supplies starts in late July and ramps up until the end of August, then ramps up again in January. Did you know that if you wait to purchase your school supplies until after the rush, you could save 50-75% off the sale prices? Consider buying enough to get started now, then looping back after the rush to stock up for the rest of the year or even next school year. Pencils and paper won’t expire, so why not save a bundle by waiting? 

Buy Free Money

You have your list and you know where you can snag the best deals – so why not pick up some “free money” to make your purchases?

Go online to buy unused gift cards from your favorite stores and save up to 25% of their value. We recommend Giftcards.com and PlasticJungle.com. Then, go online or to the physical location and use them to make your purchases (with the discount codes and coupons you’ve already collected in step 3).  

Shop Consignment Sales

Want the savings of a garage sale without having to travel far and wide? Check out group consignment sales and consignment stores in your area. Both will offer gently used (and sometimes new) merchandise at a fraction of their retail cost. Looking for kid’s clothing, backpacks and more? Check out kidconsignmentsales.com for sales in your area.

Focus on Deals for Big Ticket Items 

If your child needs a new computer, calculator, cell phone or back pack for the upcoming school year, now is the time to start trolling the Internet and sale flyers! Stores use great prices on these items to lure you in (and to hopefully convince you to shop for additional items once you are there). By cashing in on big savings with these items, you can apply those savings to other items on your list.  

Use Cash Instead of Credit Cards

Don’t get stuck in the trap of paying additional interest on your school supplies purchase by putting it on a credit card. Be sure to use your cash or debit card to make your purchase, and save the headache of paying more later. Don’t forget that several large retailers offer store debit cards that may offer you additional savings off your purchase.

Pack Your Lunch

While it’s a bit more money up front, invest in reusable lunch boxes, storage/sandwich bags and storage containers for your kids’ lunches this school year. Not only will you save money on the disposables that you’ll typically use once and throw away, you’ll also help keep trash out of the landfill.  

Take a little time to check out the grocery store sale flyers and plan lunches accordingly. Use the sale items to inspire your kids’ lunches for the week.

Get Your Kids Involved

Use back to school shopping as an opportunity to teach your kids about budgeting. For older kids, give them a clothing budget and a list of essential items, and then let them decide how to spend their money. Also take this opportunity to discuss the cost of activities with your kids. If they want to sign up for soccer, for example, take a moment to add up the costs of equipment, fees to participate and travel to and from practices and games with them. They’ll realize that there is a monetary cost as well as a time commitment for their activities, making them more likely to stick with their chosen activity and appreciate your efforts to get them there.

As always, we are here to help you with your budgeting needs! Be sure to visit us at solfcu.org to check out our checking, savings and loan options to help your family prosper this school year.
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