5 Tips for Back-to-School Shopping
Students are returning to in-person classes this fall and that also means back-to-school shopping is back.
After the pandemic introduced us to online classes (mostly done in p.j.’s and slippers), the kids are going to be excited as they look forward to embarking on the journey of a new scholastic year. Loading up with brand new school supplies can be overwhelming and expensive.
Total back-to-school spending in 2021 is expected to reach an all-time high of $37.1 billion, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF).
Much like financial planning, saving on back-to-school shopping requires a plan as well. With the right planning and preparation, back-to-school shopping doesn’t have to break the bank.
1. Take inventory
Before you hit the stores, take inventory. Go through your kids’ clothing, shoes, and supplies and document what they already have and what you will need to buy this school year. You may discover you own perfectly good scissors and rulers from years past. Final cost: free.
Host an end of the summer fashion show and ask the children to create ten outfits from the clothes they have to prepare for the first two weeks of school. Then, if it’s important to you and the children, consider getting one new “first day of school” outfit.
2. Budget First, Buy Second
Create a spending limit you’re comfortable with that covers the basics. With the class list of required supplies in mind, and the inventory you took for needed items, make a shopping list for back-to-school items and stick to the list. Try to stick with generic or store brand items which are less expensive than brand names. Keep in mind that the new school year may require items that weren’t previously needed for back-to-school shopping due to the pandemic and remote learning.
3. Start Early & Compare Prices
It’s not just that families are buying more back-to-school supplies this year. Thanks to shortages, shipping costs and more, your shopping cart may be a bit more expensive than you expect. Retailers are also aware of heightened demand from shoppers, so they may be less likely to offer steep discounts compared to previous years. Start your shopping early and compare prices in store sale flyers and online to see who may have the best deal.
4. Buy in Bulk
Certain school supplies get burned through at a ridiculous rate over the course of the school year. No, your child doesn’t need a 6-month supply of No.2 pencils for the first day of school or five spare pocket-folders. But, if you buy enough school supplies while prices are low to last through the first half of the year — or even all the way into June — you’ll save big.
5. Talk to your kids
The time to set expectations for school shopping is not in the middle of the store when you’re scrambling frantically to find the last “it” lunchbox of the year. Sit down with your kids before you ever leave the house. Get them involved in the process of making decisions and use the school shopping experience as an opportunity to teach them about budgeting and balancing needs vs. wants. Offer children a choice between a pricier backpack or a new pair of shoes. It is also a great time to teach them about giving back. Buy extra supplies and donate them to your child’s classroom or back-to-school drive.
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