By Nici Perreault, GalTime.com
Smart tips for back-to-school savings! smart tips for back to school savings
Every year, it seems like summer gets shorter and shorter. You're receiving your child's back to school supply list in the mail before you have even emptied out last year's backpack.
According to the National Retail Federation, the average family of K through 12 students will spend $688 on supplies this year. This doesn't have to be you. Whether your child is entering school for the first time, or they are a seasoned pro, heading into their senior year of college, school supplies are a necessity. Andrea Woroch, a nationally recognized Consumer and Money Saving Expert, is sharing some money saving tips to help us keep the back to school shopping in check.
1. Shop at home: Go through drawers around the house with your list and take inventory of what you have including last year's backpacks. While your child may want a new box of crayons with 5,000 different colors, you likely have many of those shades stashed somewhere around the house. Check for leftover pencils, paper, binders and notebooks that are usable. You can cross off a good portion of school supplies your list, without even pulling out your wallet (this year anyway).
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2. Head to a dollar store, drug store or supermarket: Dollar stores have pretty much everything you can think of, including school supplies. Why check other retailers for prices when there is a good chance you can find what you need for only a dollar. Drugstores and supermarkets often have great sales and even store coupons in their circulars for things like pens, pencils, folders, paper, crayons, markers, scissors and more. Check your Sunday paper coupon inserts for manufacturer coupons to go with those sales; most drugstores and supermarkets allow you to use a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon.
3. Buy during the right month: Many products are cheaper at certain times of the year. Jeans and computers, for example, are typically offered at the best prices in October. Think about holding out on these if possible. If you can find other supplies to hold you over, retailers promote holiday wares around Halloween, so prices on the remaining stock of back to school supplies will be greatly reduced.
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4. Sign up for savings: Sign up for retailers e-newsletters to receive coupons and exclusive previews in your inbox. Also, check Facebook and Twitter for special promotions from stores like Macy's and OfficeMax. Avoid opening store credit cards for the added discount, however, since signing up can ding your credit rating and the cards typically have higher interest rates than your standard credit card.
5. Compare prices on the go: Take the time to compare prices among competing stores and brands. Smart phone apps are valuable tools to compare deals, such as RedLaser, a popular barcode scanning app, that provides you with instant price comparison for local brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers. Also, brush up on your favorite stores' price-matching policies to get the prices available.
6. Get rewarded: Popular back to school destinations like Staples and OfficeMax offer great reward programs. For example, OfficeMax offered $200 in MaxPerks last year with the purchase of an HP or Toshiba notebook, perfect for college freshman in need of a new computer. Currently you can get $39.99 in Max Rewards with the purchase of a new backpack. Use the credit towards other school essentials.
7. Rent your textbooks: College students and parents know that book costs can add up; the average student spends about $1,000 on books/year. BookRenter, a book rental site, can help cut those expenses by up to 80 percent. Renting books is super easy. They can be shipped directly to your door, or in many cases, picked up at your campus bookstore. Use the coupon code "RENTBTS10" by September 2nd, to get two books 5% off or four books 10% off.
8. Set a budget: Setting a budget allows you to put in perspective what you really need to buy for the upcoming school year. Aim to spend a certain amount lower than the average of $688. Make a list of what is essential to buy for school right now and stick with it! Remember tip #3, some things are cheaper at other times of the year. Determine what you can buy within your budget based on importance and start with that.
Once you have gone through all of your coupons, found promotions and have weeded out the necessary from the expendable you are ready to tackle back to school shopping. Use these tips this school year and beyond to lessen the dread of back to school shopping.
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