Lifestyle

Back to School Shopping Tips

Written by Coleman Nee/City of Boston Credit Union

Back-to-school shopping can be both exciting and stressful, but with these tips from City of Boston Credit Union you can stay relaxed and attack that supply list and save some extra money!

Start with a game plan!
Most smooth processes are the result of good preparation, and back-to-school shopping is no different! Starting off with a written list of what you will need and where you will get it can work wonders for your bank account, as it can limit wasteful driving around as well as give you a better idea of how much you are looking to spend. Establishing a specific budget will make it much easier to stay on track and prevent those spur of the moment purchases!

Search your home before heading out!
Many items on your child’s or even your own supply list tend to be lying around most homes. Pens, loose paper, extra notebooks and the like could be in that drawer you rarely open, so search around and see if you can check a few boxes off of your list before ever leaving the house! This rule also applies to clothing – open up your boxes of Fall and Winter clothes and see if you can skip out on buying a new sweatshirt.

Shop online!
Few things are more annoying than getting to the store only to see the product you are looking for is already sold out. Shopping online can give you access to a much larger inventory as well as the ability to check up on prices from various vendors. An added benefit to this method is the “In-store pick up” option provided by many large box stores, kill two birds with one stone and save the money on shipping and the time on strolling the aisles.

Team up and buy in bulk!
Buying in bulk typically gets you the biggest discount per item, but if you are shopping for just yourself or a small number of children it can be tough to justify buying “in excess”. Team up with neighbors, friends and family to get the bulk deals and then split the bill proportionately!

Know where to shell out the extra money!
Though finding every chance to save is the name of the game, some items it may be wiser to shell out for the higher quality product. Buying a cheap backpack only to have it break half way through the year can put a damper on the savings you thought you found, and a quality one can actually be much better for your child’s back. This rule can apply to some electronic items as well, a good calculator can last many years before you need to upgrade for higher-level courses. Focus on finding good deals for these bigger ticket items – chances are you will pay about the same for pens and notebooks no matter where you shop!

Make it a teaching moment!
Although in a time crunch it may be smart to shop alone, bringing your kids along could be a valuable learning experience on budgeting for them. Lay out how much money you plan to spend, and show them how to mix and match selections on clothing and other gear to stay under that number. Many schools do not have an extensive financial literacy program, so these lessons will be tremendously valuable for the rest of their lives!
Sometimes waiting will pay off in the end!

One of the main stressors of back-to-school shopping is getting it all done before the year starts. While this is important for many of the items on your list, expensive items like clothing can end up costing you far more now than a few weeks into the school year. Picking out a new outfit for the first day is fun and gets you ready for the new year, but consider filling out the rest of your wardrobe once a lot of those same clothes are on the clearance rack just weeks later.

Here are a few extra quick tips:
– Keep your receipts for easy exchanges/returns, as well as track your spending and stay within budget.
– Utilize rebate deals and store loyalty programs to get even more out of your dollar.
– Consider outlets, thrift stores and consignment shops to pick out clothing for cheap.
– Buying sturdy items like binders can be smart, if they make it through the year you can always use them again the following year.
– Many stores like Walmart, Target, and Staples offer price matching ability (some even give a discount on top of that), so if you find a cheaper deal online while you’re in the store; let them know.
– Dollar stores can be utilized to save a bit extra on the smaller essentials.

We hope that you have a stress-free (or as little as possible) shopping experience, and let’s all look forward to another great school year!

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About the Author

Maureen Dahill

Maureen Dahill is the editor of Caught in Southie and Caught in Dot and a lifelong resident of South Boston sometimes mistaken for a yuppie. Hockey mom, yoga enthusiast, lover of red wine and binge watching TV series. Mrs. Peter G. Follow her @MaureenCaught.