Back to School? Shop Smart!

August 13, 2014

Getting ready to go back to school? Join the crowd! By mid-August, the average family with children in grades K-12 had completed just half of their back-to-school shopping, according to the National Retail Federation. NRF’s latest survey shows that nearly one-quarter of families had not started shopping yet, up from 20% at the same time last year.

Still need to hit the stores? Check out these back-to-school budget tips from BBB first:

Make a shopping list. Even if you don’t know the exact school supply list, you should get an idea back to schoolof school clothing and other school needs. Make a list for each child, but start by “shopping at home” for items that you may already have left over from last year. For some items, it’s worth spending a bit more (a high quality backpack will last for years).

Create a budget. Do a quick price search online for the items on your list and add them all up. Be sure to clip coupons, and make note of discount codes and any cash-back or rebate programs. If you goal is to reduce spending, now is the time to decide how much you want to cut.

Set up email alerts at your favorite stores. Monitoring pricing early on is key to finding good deals on quality products. Many sites will have an informed community of savvy shoppers on their blog or in their forums who willingly share deals, exclusive coupons, rebates and insider information on where and when to find the best prices, popular models and links to helpful resources. These alerts will assure you don’t miss out on the hottest, and/or limited, opportunities.

Take advantage of discounts. Many stores offer student and teacher discounts on hot items like laptops and uniforms. Retailers will be trying to make room for fall fashion and the newest models, so there are incredible savings to be had on older items.

Shop tax-free. Some states offer a tax-free holiday specifically for the back-to-school shopping rush in August. Check out the “2014 State Sales Tax Holidays” list to see if your state offers any tax-free shopping deals.