It's that time of year that parents love and kids loathe: Back to School. That, of course, means shopping trips to stock up on necessary supplies. The first day of school is fast approaching! No matter what, this is the time of year to shop.
There is nothing like shopping for that special fist day of school outfit. Those pictures will live on forever! Those sparkling new sneakers that are just waiting to run and have fun. Other must haves may include a trendy backpack and the hot accessories to decorate it. The array of choices in the children's department can be intimidating, especially when your little fashion plate claims she needs everything.
On average, parents will spend about $635 on back-to-school items per family for K-12 students (down from $688 last year) and $836 for college students (down from $907 last year) on supplies and apparel, according to the National Retail Federation.
That's a hefty tab after a summer of spending on camps and vacations. A smart spending strategy can help you stick to a back-to-school budget. Here are 10 tips for parents of younger kids on how to survive the fall ritual without going broke.
Start at home
Before you head out, go through all your children's clothes and school supplies left over from last year. You'll likely find you may need less than you think.
Set a budget
Determine how much you can spend, and share the details with your kids. Showing them how to shop and sticking to a budget is a great personal finance lesson.
Be app savvy
Check in at a store on your phone with FourSquare, ShopKick, and Yelp. You'll receive coupons and freebies just for checking in on these apps.
Brand new might not be best
Imagine getting a name-brand laptop for under $200, sports equipment, or a musical instrument for 60% off the list price. Take advantage of yard sales and scout for bargains on eBay or Craigslist.
Buy last year's electronics
Purchasing the second-newest model of a laptop or tablet can yield savings of 25% or more and will suffice for most students' needs.
Hit the warehouse stores
Warehouse clubs like Costco and BJ's often offer great deals on electronics. They're also a great source of generic supplies, but who needs 200 pencils? Connect with a neighbor or friend to split the cost and take home a more manageable bounty.
Use credit reward cards
This is a great time to start cashing in some of those rewards you've been collecting. Check out your balance, and visit the rewards website to convert them to cash or gift cards that could help pay for supplies.
Say no thanks to new credit cards
Don't sign up for a new card just to get a one-time discount. Applying for a new card can ding your credit score.
Check coupon sites
Combine sales and coupons to maximize savings. Follow your favorite retailers on Facebook or Twitter for additional coupons.
Stores are now price matching competitors. Just because you're in a discount retail store doesn't mean you're getting the best price, see what others have and ask their competitor to match it.
Save some shopping for September
Stock up on all the supplies your kids will need for their first day of school, but hold off on items they may not need until later in the year. Retailers drop prices in September, once the back-to-school rush has passed.
How do you deal with Back-to-School shopping? Tell is in the comments below.