School bells will be ringing before we know it. Now’s thetime to take advantage of annual back-to-school specials on supplies. Whetheryou plan to shop at your favorite retail store or in the drawers and closets ofyour home, Better Business Bureau recommends sticking to a budget to avoid thecommon overspending on school supplies.
According to the National Retail Federation, parents will beshopping carefully and making special efforts to save on supplies this schoolyear. 31% of families say they will do comparative shopping online (compared to29.8% last year), and they will use more coupons (38.7% vs. 36.9%), and cutback on extracurricular activities or sports (14.3% vs. 10.2%).
Many retailers offer back-to-school “freebies” to enticeshoppers. Coupons, deals, and giveaways are always nice, but make sure youactually need the items first. There’s no need to spend money on new crayons,colored pencils, and notebooks if all it takes is a good sharpening or tearingout a few used pages from the previous year.
BBB recommends considering the following when it comes toback-to-school shopping:
Take inventory. There’salways that endless supply of makers, crayons and notebooks around the house.Reusing these items can save hundreds of dollars over the years. Considerrepackaging, sharpening, and cleaning out older, gently used items before buying new ones.
Look for thedeals. Some retailers’back-to-school specials are available for online and in-store purchase. Makesure to check out your local newspaper for deals. Oftentimes, retailers willput ads showcasing the special buy-one-get-one=free deals, and even coupleditems like lunchboxes with backpacks to lure in customers. Shop sooner ratherthan later and save more.
Set a budget. Decidehow much you are willing to spend per child, and include your children for a“teachable moment” on creating a budget. After taking inventory, create a shoppinglist and stick to it. This will help you avoid costly impulse purchases andensure nothing is forgotten.
Shop during tax freeholidays. Many states have tax-free days in August, which can meansignificant savings. Be mindful of restrictions, either a dollar amount or onthe type of item purchased. Most tax holidays include clothing and schoolsupplies; some include computers and sports equipment, too.
Know what yourchild's school allows. Schools will often provide parents witha list of required items for the school year, which can help determine what youneed to purchase. These lists are also available at many retail stores and onschool websites. Additionally, many schools have specific dress codes, so keepthese restrictions in mind before spending money onclothes the school may not allow.
Check for refundand exchange policies. Be sure you can exchange or return itemspurchased during this time period. Keep in mind some items may be non-refundableor have restocking fees associated with a return.
For more consumer tips you cantrust, visit www.bbb.org.