You may not want to think about back-to-school time during the first weeks of summer break but doing so could help keep your budget healthy throughout August and September.
1. Save a little bit of money each week
Saving even a small amount of money each week throughout the summer months will help you start back to school shopping without having to compromise the household budget or use credit cards.
If you can put aside $20 each week between mid-June and the end of August, you’ll have about $200 set aside. If possible, set up an automatic transfer on payday of the funds from your main account to a savings account.
2. Shop for boring basics without your kids
Every year, stores offer “loss leaders” at super-low prices. These basic school supplies like notebooks, folders, pencils, and glue are sold at or below cost in an effort to get you in the door. If you shop for these basics without your kids, you are much less likely to leave the store with expensive extras.
If possible, get loss leaders on Sunday or Monday. They run out fast, and most stores stock shelves with these items, so they have plenty on hand when the Sunday morning ads come out.
3. Get name-brand and high-end items online
If you have a Nike-loving kid that just has to have a backpack with a big swoosh on it, check discount sites like 6pm.com and eBags for back-to-school deals. Deal-finding apps like Brad’s Deals and Retail Me Not can help you stack up savings.
When you are in a name-brand store, check their website for the same item before making an in-store purchase. Price matching with their website is a common practice in the retail world. If you show the sales clerk that the store’s online price is lower, they may be able to give you the better price on-the-spot.
4. Spend your rewards on back-to-school necessities
If you’ve accumulated rewards from stores like Walgreens and CVS or you have credit card rewards, use those extra funds to reduce your out-of-pocket back-to-school expenses.
5. Use the Amazon app to price check in real-time
If you find a lower price for an identical item on Amazon, you can order it right there through the app on your phone. Some retailers also price-match with Amazon, so if you are at JC Penney, Target, Staples, or Bed Bath and Beyond and you see that Amazon has a lower price for the exact same item, take your phone over to customer service and save some money.
6. Watch for back-to-school deals at dollar stores
Stores where everything is one dollar are great places to pick up seasonal stuff like back-to-school supplies. If your elementary school student needs a calculator, this is the place to buy it for $1. They may also carry name-brand school supplies for a short amount of time, like Ticonderoga yellow pencils and Crayola markers.
7. Tax free back-to-school shopping days
Several states offer tax free shopping for a period prior to school starting. These dates range from a weekend up to a week, and offer tax free shopping on basically anything associated with going back-to-school. This may include clothes, shoes, backpacks, computers, and more. To see if your state participates check here.
Budgeting is crucial during back-to-school shopping to keep spending from getting out of control. It’s an exciting time for kids, and it’s tempting to give in to their expensive requests. Setting aside a small amount of money out of each paycheck during the summer months will help you handle back-to-school shopping without extra stress.
When it’s all done, if you find you still need help finishing your shopping, consider a personal installment loan. These loans are designed to fit into your budget and offer fixed payments for a set term. You can even pay them off early without penalty.