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It’s Time to Plan for Back to School!

Back-to-School Shopping Tips 2019

As you and your family tackle the tasks of getting kids ready for the new school year, the following tips include helpful money saving advice and strategies.  

1.   Get Organized, Make a List, Determine Priorities.

Save money and time by creating a game plan. Determine your child’s immediate needs: Maybe it’s a new backpack, long sleeve shirts, or tennis shoes. Spend on those items first, and plan on budgeting for the rest later in the year. Chances are that your child doesn’t need a winter coat or boots for the first few weeks, if not months, of school. It’s tempting to get your winter shopping out of the way while the racks are full of cute cold-weather gear, but you are more likely to get a bargain on that adorable down jacket when it goes on sale before the holidays.

2.   Start by “shopping” at home. Including… your junk drawers.

For your child’s back-to-school wardrobe, start by taking an inventory of your child’s closet and evaluate what still fits. From there determine the new items you’ll need to buy for the school year. For school supplies, you might be surprised by how many supplies are already in your house. Junk drawers are usually full of common back to school items like highlighters, pencils, pens, calculators, and notebook paper. While it’s fun to have brand-new school supplies in the beginning of the school year, the savings you will see from shopping your own home are significant and having a decluttered drawer is a reward in itself. Send the kids on a scavenger hunt; whoever finds the most items on the teacher’s list gets a prize.

3.    Swap before you shop. 

After you find the clothes or sports equipment that your children have outgrown, hold an “exchange” with other parents.  Also local consignment shops/sales provide clothing, sports equipment and other items at deeply discounted prices AND you can supplement your budget by reselling items your unwanted items.

4.   Check Weekly Sales Flyers, Coupon Sites and Blogs; Stock-up for the Future.

Grab a pair of scissors, sales flyers and newspaper circulars; cut out coupons and specific ads for things on your list. Checkout store websites, online savers sites and blogs for printable coupons and links to more discounts. Coupon holder idea:  Use the plastic photo sleeves in a 5” x 7” photo album to organize coupons/ads by category or store. On some items, (such as notebook paper, pens/pencils, folders) back-to-school prices are the lowest you’ll find all year, so stock-up, and stored “extras” until you need them. Keep them out of sight of your kids so they’re not tempted to “over use” supplies.

5.  Make one trip to shop at a store that price-matches.

Staples, Office Depot, Office Max and other have price-match policies, meaning if you see an advertised price on a certain item, any of the three businesses will honor that figure (including instant rebates). So pore over the circulars, then save gas money by heading to the nearest retailer. If you have a smartphone, you can ensure you’re getting the best deal by comparing prices in the store using the ShopSavvy app  to scan any product’s bar code.

6. Work the warranty.

If you’re in the market for a new backpack or jacket, buy one that comes with a lifetime warranty. L.L.Bean, Lands’ End and REI are among the companies that will fix or replace worn merchandise for the entire life of a product. So if a backpack gives out in a year, or even 10 years from now, you can pick out a replacement for free. TIP: Great sales for backpacks resurface in September after school has started, see if last year’s can make it just a few more months.

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