Financial Advice Blog

Be Smart When Shopping for Back to School

by Community Manager  |  Retired, Army  |  San Antonio, TX  |  ‎07-15-2014 07:33 AM

Teens shopping - shutterstock_11377693.jpg

While my kids don’t like to admit it, they are almost itching to get back to school. You may be downright enthusiastic about the beginning of a new year, but the prospect of back-to-school shopping may not be quite so exciting. It can be a big drain on your pocketbook, especially if you’re not careful.


Over the years I’ve compiled—both through personal experience and reader feedback—some good tips to help you do your shopping in a way that won’t break the bank. Here are four of my favorite ideas:


  1. Don’t buckle to the pressure. Stick to the basics, and don't let your back-to-school shopping become a foot race with the Joneses. This could be a great teaching moment: a discussion of needs vs. wants. My mom taught me this one as I was the only kid with those funny looking tennis shoes with the wrong number of stripes.

  2. Make a list. You can make any type of shopping more efficient and less costly by starting with a budget and building a shopping list. This will keep you on track and allow you to avoid impulse buys. Do it yourself, or better yet, if your kids are a bit older, bring them in on the exercise. This technique works for shopping anytime.

  3. Can you say sale? Everybody loves a deal and if you can match up a sale with something on your list, you've got a winner. Of course, sales happen throughout the year, so the back-to-school season may be a great time to buy and stash a holiday gift or two. And if, at the same time, you take advantage of those tax-free days offered throughout the country, you'll get the most bang for your buck.

  4. Be a cash buyer. The definitive way to stay on budget during any shopping excursion is to use cash. When the money is gone, the shopping is done. An equally effective alternative, in the interest of budget education, is to consider putting money budgeted for back-to-school purchases directly into your teen's checking account — and then setting them loose with their debit card. Readers tell me many kids find the will to shop smart when they know they get to keep any leftover cash if they come in under budget. That could mean enough money for an extra outfit or two.

It's back-to-school time and there’s no turning back. Get the new school year off to a good start without digging a big financial hole. Good luck!






by EMT/Firefighting_MOM ‎07-27-2014 04:44 PM

Honestly the BEST time to go for Back to School shopping is a couple of weeks AFTER the kids are back in school and a couple of weeks AFTER school gets out for summer. 


Last year I notice that after a couple of weeks into the school year stores were marking notebooks, notepads, pens and pencils on clearance. I bought two notebooks that had a built on zipper for $0.25 a piece that were originally marked for a little over $2 to $3 each. Pens and Pencils were marked down to $0.10 a package. Nice thing is don't buy a lot a before the school year start. Just enough to get the kids on the right foot, then when EVERYTHING in the Back to School Supply section after a couple of weeks into the school year, start shopping then. No shame of it what so ever. It's the school supplies that helps get through the school year not the character notebooks, bookbags, pens and pencils. 


Right then after the school year have ended all the jeans and winter stuff goes on sale. The trick is Buy a couple of sizes and lengths up. Who cares about fashion and trends, that is so overrated anymore.  


This year I am going to buy a nice size bin and after a couple weeks into the school year, I am going to stock up on notebook paper, notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons, markers, and bookbag for my son. Heo's almost pre-school age so I rather buy and stock up now rather then wait until he's actually register and off the bus he goes. 


As for the christmas shopping, I'm done with that. Gifts are all wrap and tagged. Everyone's gifts is under $10 all thanks to the clearance sections in stores. I started in January and now I'm done. Now when summer stuff goes on sale it's time for me to buy birthday and easter gifts. Save, plan, and follow through and you'll be fine.. 


Hit the clearance section first before hitting the retail price items. Easy said, easy done. 

by Community Manager ‎07-28-2014 08:01 AM

Thanks EMT/Firefighting MOM (that's a mouthful!)--great thoughts!!

by Dezeri ‎08-13-2014 01:46 PM

I do this with school supplies and also for christmas wrapping paper.  With school suppies I always pick up the sheet that my kids will be needing next year right now and then when then go on sale about a month from registration, I buy the items on that list and stow them away, now some of the items may change but at least I have the bulk of those items already bought at a discounted rate.  With wrapping paper, I always buy that the day/week after Christmas, when it is really cheap and then I have it for next year. I also try to buy solid colors and then it will work for birthdays etc throughout the year and not just Christmas.  

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