Written by: Pier Alsup, American Eagle Credit Union, Chief Community Engagement Officer
August is here, and alongside the inevitable start of the new school year. Back to school shopping doesn’t have to bring sad faces—in fact, it can be a great time of the year! I mean, no matter what your age—who doesn’t enjoy a new box of crayons?
Back to school shopping is the second biggest retail shopping season outside the holiday season. Electronics, clothing, and school supply expenses can really add up! The National Retail Federation Record expects record spending this back to school season. Spending for families with children in elementary school through high school plan to spend an average $696 and families with college students expect to spend an average $977.
Back to school shopping can be a great opportunity to spend time with your kids while teaching them smart shopping habits. Whether you have an income kindergartner or an incoming college freshman, every student’s family can benefit from the following tips:
Stick to your list.
Many schools provide supply lists for the students and the classroom. These grade school and high school lists often contain a range of items including notebooks and folders as well as hand-sanitizer and tissues. College-bound lists often include power strips, sheets and fans. The number of items and the price range can certainly vary! Now is the time to look for back to school specials and door busters, but be careful not to let good prices lure you into spending on things you don’t need.
Shop during your state’s sales-tax holiday.
Many offer a weekend during which state sales tax is waived. Often time, local municipalities waive their tax as well on specific items. Shopping during tax holidays can provide significant savings!
New clothes and shoes can be expensive, as can new books!
Take time to perform a thorough “audit” of your closets and itemize exactly what your child will need for the new school year. And, if your child attends a school at which textbooks are your responsibility, be sure to check out used copies, renting and online versions. Also, join online parent groups. Here you’ll often find great deals on books from last year’s students and you’re certain to get bonus tips for navigating the school year too!
Use coupons and store rewards plus double your deal by using your credit card or debit card that earns points or cash back.
Save by utilizing coupons and store rewards programs. You can download coupon apps that list the available coupons by store—Retail Me Not is one that is very popular. This is also one of the few times that it is okay to use a credit card, but only ones that allow you to earn points of have cash back rewards.
Don’t forget to “shop your home”
while it’s fun to have new items, not everything needs to be new. Look around your home and through last year’s supplies for items on your shopping list. The best way to save money might just be not to spend it!
Pier’s Pro Tip:
Save your receipts! There is always the possibility a teacher may make a change to the syllabus … and if you no longer need a book or supplies you originally purchased, you’ll need the receipt for returning!
For additional savings tips, savings calculators and all things “money matters”, visit the American Eagle Credit Union web site today at www.ameaglecu.org