Who knew that erasers and binders could cost so much? Americans spent over $28 billion on back-to-school purchases in 2018. That’s an average of about $650 per child. Scary, huh?
Your bottom line doesn’t need to be so scary or so high. We have a few tips to help you save some money this back-to-school season.
- Take an Inventory
Chances are, you have some unused, left over school supplies from the previous school year. Lay everything out and make a list of what you have and what you need. Be sure to wait till the school’s or teacher’s school supply list comes out before making your final shopping list.
- Create a Budget
Time to get your kids truly involved. Go through the list with them and come up with estimates on how much you’re going to spend on each item. A little online research will help you come up with a realistic number. It will also show your children just how much supplies really cost! It may also help them stick to their budget better.
- Review Your List
There are usually items on a school list that your child probably doesn’t really need or may not need right away. Prioritize what items are “must haves” and what items you can wait to buy. If they’re asking for three containers of sanitized wipes, maybe buy one now and the other two later in the school year. This is also a good time to think about what sells out at stores first, like those cute, trendy folders and pencils bags, and move them up the prioritized list.
- Shop the Sales
From Office Depot to Target, every store has a different time period they offer huge bargains on supplies. Keep an eye on the store flyers, either in the mail or online, to see when it will be the best time to hit up each store. A good example is Staples usually offers 1¢ reams of paper once a year, usually around early August. Take out your list and write next to the items the stores and dates to get the best deals. Don’t forget that many stores offer price matching guarantees if you want to do all your shopping in one place but another store has a better deal.
- Wait to Purchase
While many school supplies and deals will run out before the end of September, clothing is one item that can definitely wait. Sure, buy that outfit for the first day back at school, but wait till at least the end of September to buy the bulk of your school clothes – that’s when most of the clothing sales occur.
- Buy in Bulk
If you’re not already a Costco or Sam’s Club aficionado, now is the time to jump on the bandwagon. They’re terrific school supply destinations, especially if you have more than one child or to stock up for the year if you have just one child. Mechanical pencils, clothes, shoes, plastic baggies and snacks can all be found in great quantities at usually even better prices at these warehouse stores.
- Shop Inexpensively
Don’t forget your local dollar or thrift stores when back-to-school shopping. Dollar stores usually have a great inventory of school supplies to choose from. Thrift stores are a fantastic place to get gently worn kids’ clothes, which is a great option when they’re younger and grow out of their clothes quickly. You may even be able to find school uniforms basics like polos and khakis.
- Use Gift Cards
Store gift cards are a great way to stay on budget. Get them for the amount you’re able to spend at each store and don’t go above that amount when shopping. An added plus is many stores like Kroger offer you extra perks when you buy gift cards for local stores or Visa/Mastercard gift cards.
- Get Social
If you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat, follow your favorite back-to-school brands and retailers. Many of them will post exclusive savings on their social media accounts. So, why not be in-the-know and save at the same time?
- Have Some Fun
Back-to-school season can be very stressful – and expensive – for parents. Don’t forget to take some time to remember how magical and fun this time of year is for your kids. Let them splurge on that cute character lunch box they’ve wanted or the trendy must-have backpack. It’s these little things that your children will remember when school is over.
Still have supplies to buy but can’t make ends meet? WWFCU has a Summer Loan Special that can help with that. Call (734) 721-5700 or stop by our branch to learn more.