by Nadia Ali
It’s almost time to start shopping for back-to-school supplies. According to the National Retail Federation last year most parents spent an average of $634.78. When you factor in many families have more than one child the cost can start stacking up. So, what can you do to cut costs and avoid pressures to make unnecessary purchases?
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Maybe not a surprise, but more parents are going online to source the best buys and deals out there. According to Deloitte the consultancy firm, one in three parents go online to hunt down the best savings, track the sales announcements of the big stores back-to-school sales and even run a comparison of weekly pricing. Tech savvy shoppers also join many of the stores loyal followers' club and sign up for newsletters and email alerts, this gives them access to valuable coupon links, and advance notice of upcoming sales. If you plan to bargain-hunt this year, then monitor your favorite stores’ Twitter and Facebook pages to find the deals. Check these deal sites which do the scanning for you: Dealnews.com, Sundaysaver.com, Offers.com
Have you ever thought about renting your child’s school books as opposed to buying them? Well, it’s a new trend that appears to be taking off with just over 50% of parents now checking out textbooks on a long term basis. Ensure you read the fine print about the rental policies to make sure which one is right for you. Check: Bookrenter.com, Chegg.com, Campusbookrentals.com
(Editor's Note: Many college campus bookstores now offer textbook rental options, likely to compete with all the rental companies that have started up in recent years!)
Additionally, you can save up to 50% or more on textbooks if you buy a digital copy and download it to your Kindle, or other e-reader. Check: cafescribe.com/
Get Tech Savvy
Nowadays, school supplies are found within the aisles of technical electronic goods, so do your homework before the sales clerk or your child persuades you to spend extra on the latest model with top-of-the-line features which may not be necessary. School’s are quite good about what specs to look for and you need only refer to your child’s school’s booklist or website to make sure you are on track. Check: Pricegrabber.com
Skip the designer names and labels, although that is easy said than done when your child says "please mom!" While you may want to stand your ground and insist on everything being 'no name', reward their careful spending. One mom says, "every year I allow them each to splurge on two must-have items of their choice."
Joining the shopping rush the week before school opens can only lead to headaches, long cue’s and frustration, so what retailers are now doing is pushing back-to-school sales into the month of September by providing incredibly cheap price-cutting promotions. One mother says "it’s ridiculously cheap after the new school year rush." Retail shops normally regard September a lackluster month, so by offering deal-breakers they manage to lure customers back into the stores with extra low deals.
Cash is definitely the way to go when it comes to back-to-school purchases, as it ensures that once the kids are back in school you don’t have hefty bills still waiting to be paid.
You can use cash with your shop loyalty card that gives you cashback, access to discounts, weekly newsletter, advance sale info and even exclusive coupons to use against your purchases. All of the big stores offer them and you don’t even need to carry plastic, you can just use the store app on your mobile to scan savings at the checkout. It’s a great way to be rewarded for shopping.
So, begin shopping for the essential items and then pace yourself as the sales start heating up. Do spread out your savings and aim to stay within your budget. You can also leave room for some shopping in the September sales when you can take advantage of the last of the season sales and stock up on school supplies.
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Copyright © 2014 by Nadia Ali. All rights reserved.