Each year, summer passes in a seemingly never-ending whirlwind of poolside fun, time with friends and family BBQs. But, as we flip our calendars from July to August, it’s impossible to miss that the back-to-school season is just around the corner. As always, with its return is the demand for new backpacks, sharpened pencils and fresh sneakers. So how can you save money when faced with long supply lists? Here are a few tips on being a smart consumer:
- Get the list of mandatory school supplies from the school or teachers.
This list should tell you exactly what you need for the upcoming school year, so you don’t have to guess.
- Shop your home then make a list
Before you go on a big shopping spree, look through your drawers and closets to see what you already have and let this act as your starting point. From there, make a list of what you need to purchase and bring it to the store with you. This list, as well as the one offered by the school, will help keep you on track while shopping.
- Set a budget
Each year, stores seem to have even wider selections of school supplies to offer. It can be hard to resist buying that extra videogame, new toy or scented markers. Like having a list ahead of time, setting a budget before you shop encourages you to separate needs from wants.
- Look out for savings
Before you set out on your shopping adventure, remember to search for savings opportunities and to amass any coupons. Signing up for Target’s REDcard gets you five percent off every purchase and free online shipping. Online, Kohl’s, Walmart, Staples and many other retailers offer back-to-school deals. In addition, Bed Bath and Beyond sends its customers coupons throughout the year which do not expire.
- Shop around
While stores like Target and Walmart seem to have everything you could possibly need in one fell swoop, shopping around at different stores can help you find the best deals. Don’t be afraid to expand your search to online shopping, where sites like Amazon offer exclusive content or the opportunity to buy in bulk.
- Spend where it matters
Saving money is always good, but it’s important to remember that some things merit the higher cost. Spending extra on a sturdy backpack that won’t fall apart midway through the year, for example, is a wise investment. For kids going to college, splurging on a comfortable mattress topper or bedspread will ensure a good night’s sleep throughout the year.
- Hold off on winter wear
Although it may be tempting to buy for future seasons right now while sales are hot, hold off on buying winter gear. The clothes you buy now will be wearable for a few months and come November, there will be another round of sales for those long pants you really like. In addition, you never know when the 2 inch growth spurt may happen, which can make purchases for the future become too small and thus a waste of money.
- Mind the date
One special week to mark down is Sunday, August 20th through Saturday, August 26th, when Connecticut holds its tax holiday week. For those days, the state gives customers a tax exclusion – a break from Connecticut’s normal 6.35% sales tax rate – on clothing and footwear less than $100. Take advantage of this once a year offer!
- Travel smart
When you’re packing the car for college, space can prove quite the challenge. Take advantage of stores that allow customers to order school and dorm room supplies and have them set aside for you at the store closest to your son or daughter’s college. For example, Bed Bath and Beyond will reserve items selected online and set them aside at the store nearest the college. Upon arrival, you can choose to either purchase what you have set aside, or to not buy those items. Target’s order pickup option allows customers to shop online and pick up their order in select stores. Shopping this way helps you save on car space, shipping costs, and unnecessary merchandise. It also assures your reserved items will be available for you so you avoid the too frequent, and very disappointing, “empty-shelves-syndrome” in the college town.