Parents are expected to spend close to $600 to get their children ready for the new school year, according to the National Retail Federation. Back-to-school shopping is the second biggest shopping event of the year (the first is the winter holiday shopping season), so there will be plenty of stores having sales. Whether you’re shopping for a kindergarten tyke or a college kid, here are a few tips on how to get the best deal.
- Check the closets. Look to see what your items your children already have that can be used again for this school year. Don’t purchase an entirely new wardrobe if it’s not necessary. And don’t forget those hand-me-downs. If one child can fit clothing that another child can no longer wear, pass it on down. Hey, Michelle Obama does it.
- Set up a budget. Make a list and stick to it. This will prevent you from making impulse purchases and save you time. If your kids ask you to buy things that aren’t in the budget, use this time to teach them about household money management. Any moment can be a teaching moment.
- Buy store brands. Your children don’t have to have name brands for everything. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2011 back-to-school survey, almost 40% of shoppers plan to buy generic. Store brand or generic socks, shoes, T-shirts, and jeans should do just fine. If your teens protest, tell them to get a job.
- Compare prices. Comparison-shopping websites like Pricegrabber.com and Shopping.com will assist you with your bargain hunt. Also check store circulars and visit store Facebook and Twitter feeds.
- Take advantage of sales-tax holidays. A few of the sales-tax holidays have passed, but there are still some you can take advantage of. For example, in Connecticut, you can save 6.35% from August 21 until August 27. And in New York, you can save 4% on any clothing or shoes that cost less than $55 up until March 31, 2012.
- Use your smart phone. Apps like RedLaser allow you to scan bar codes and locate cheaper prices online or at another store.