Back to school

Tips for Tackling Back-to-School Shopping

Back to school shopping season is already here, and experts are predicting spending to increase this year. Preparing for the new academic year doesn’t have to break the bank. Plus, involving your child in planning and budgeting is a great way to teach them about money through example.

Here are 5 tips for tackling back-to-school shopping:

1. Start With a List

Lists help you stay organized and can help prevent unnecessary impulse purchases. Classrooms typically provide a list of recommended basic school supplies, or you can search online for your student’s grade level. Then, add any additional items to the list you’ll need, such as supplies for extracurricular activities, a lunchbox, etc. Working through the list with your child is a great opportunity to discuss the difference between “wants” and “needs” and the cost of name brands versus generic labels.

2. Take Inventory

Shop your closets first. Take inventory of what you already have on the list, and note the condition of used or open items. For example, last year’s barely used box of crayons might be fine to start off the new year, so you don’t need to splurge on a new set just yet.

3. Set a Budget

Setting a spending limit prevents overspending. Estimate costs (or do a quick search online) for the items on your list to determine how much you need. If this total is more than you’re comfortable spending in one trip, you can strategize your shopping and spread your purchases out over a few months to lessen the financial impact.

4. Assign Priority

Prioitize items on your list based on need and urgency so you know what to buy now and what to postpone. You may be able to defer low-priority items until they get marked down for end-of-season clearance sales.

5. Strategize

Plan ahead to save money on purchases:

  • Comparison shop: “Budget stores” don’t always have the best prices for everything, and be sure to look at the unit price.
  • Check out thrift shops: Look for high-quality nearly new clothing at great savings.
  • Shop sales: There will be Back-to-School sales, but also Clearance sales later in the season. Plus, holiday sales are right around the corner for low-priority clothes and electronics.
  • Use coupons: Take a little time to search for coupons and rebates before you start shopping.
  • Use your Rewards points: You can redeem your SESLOC Rewards points for merchandise and gift cards.

Bonus: Get Ahead

Did you spend less than your budget? Since you already earmarked the funds for school supplies, deposit the difference in a savings account so you can get a jump start preparing for next year or be ready to take advantage of sales.

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