“Back To School” – the three words that strike dread into the hearts of students and parents alike. The kids are waving goodbye to long summer days and resenting the piles of homework, while parents are dreading the expense of all of the back-to-school knickknacks.
While there’s not much to do about reducing the amount of homework, Jodi Furman, the savvy shopping guru from LiveFabuLESS.com, has some great ways to trim back-to-school spending without skimping on quality or quantity. In fact, with these tips, you can simultaneously save money AND increase the quality of the goods you’re buying!
1. Let Sales Dictate What You’re Buying and When
You don’t need to buy ALL items in one shopping trip. If the sales dictate your purchases, you’ll find different items on sale each week (sometimes even for FREE) and get everything for a cheaper price. Instead of going to a specific store in hopes of a good sale, wait until you receive an email, text, tweet, etc. when there’s a sale and/or a coupon. Also, items should be picked up throughout the year when they’re on sale for a great price. Even if they’re not needed immediately, if an item is 50% off or more, it’s well worth the sale.
2. Stock Up!
It’s a great idea to buy more than just what’s on the school supplies list while prices are low to make sure you don’t have to run out to a store to purchase more supplies while the kids are in the middle of a project – since that always seems to be the case! Also, since many stores will basically be giving away items, it might be a nice thought to grab more to donate to your children’s school or to families who might not be able to afford school supplies.
3. Easily Find Discounts at Name Brand Stores
In the weeks leading up to school, many ‘expensive’ stores, particularly office supply stores (e.g., Office Max, Office Depot and Staples) and national drug stores (e.g., CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens) will have unbelievable deals on school supplies, including many items for a penny or even for FREE. When it comes to clothing, keep an eye on higher-end mall stores like The Gap, Gymboree, Macy’s and the like. With a good sale and/or a great coupon, you can often scoop up clothing for far less than at discount stores.
4. Shop From Your Couch – Online Shopping
Free shipping and online coupon codes are plentiful, and you can also receive cash back when shopping at many national retailers and specialty stores (most can be found at Ebates.com). Online shopping is best when items can be returned or exchanged in store or the online retailer offers free returns and exchanges. Bargains that aren’t in stores can also be found on sites such as www.amazon.com. Scoring a brand name, high quality shoe for less money than a no name brand from a discount store is more preferred to everyone’s liking!
5. Take Advantage Of Price Matching/Price Adjustments/Competitors Coupons
Many major retailers, office supply chains, craft stores, and online sites will either match their competitors’ prices and/or accept each other’s coupons. Better yet, some stores will not only match a competitor’s price, but will beat it by 10% of the price difference! If you purchase an item that goes on sale within 7-14 days (often as long as 30 days), you might be eligible for a “price adjustment.” Customer service, whether online or in-store, will refund the difference between the current reduced price and the price you paid. To see a list of stores and their policies, check out priceprotectr.com. You can even combine a price adjustment with a price matching policy for super savings!
6. Super Savings on Clearance
Simply purchase the essentials and then buy the rest a few days or weeks later when it ALL goes on clearance – that’s when you want to scoop up the rest of the year’s supplies.
7. Invest In Quality Where It Counts And “Cheap Out” Where It Doesn’t
Minimize your spending on items that don’t need to stand the test of time, like tops, dresses and bottoms, but invest in quality for items where quality counts such as coats, jackets, sneakers and backpacks. Set a budget. For younger children, if you shop sales and use a coupon, you can often find items for far less than $10 per item. For pre-teens and teens, a great lesson is to give them a set budget to spend and let them decide how to spend their money on what they need – you will be amazed at how much more carefully they spend their ‘own’ money than they do yours!