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by Andrea Woroch
Summer is fleeting, and kids will find themselves back in classrooms in no time.
That means it’s time for parents to confront the dreaded back-to-school shopping list. Considering the average family with school-age children spent $690 on supplies last year, shopping smart is essential. To keep more money in your pockets this year, follow these helpful strategies.
1. Take Inventory
Search around the house for any supplies you already have or can reuse. If there are optional items on the supply list, hold off on buying those until you’re absolutely sure your student needs them.
2. Consider Second-Hand
There’s never an end to the need for children’s clothing. Sizes don’t stick around long, adding up to a lot of expense. Instead of buying everything brand new, see what kind of second-hand options are available. This doesn’t mean you have to comb through the shelves at your local Salvation Army store, either. Sites such as thredUP.com specialize in consignment of like-new clothing for kids.
4. Keep Coupons Handy
During back-to-school time there will be plenty of offers available, it’s just a matter of knowing where to find them. Though traditional coupon clipping still works, mobile coupon apps are especially convenient and widely accepted by retailers.
5. Mix & Match
Families often find they’ve accumulated a massive stockpile of one particular supply. Maybe you have notebooks stacked to the ceiling, but there’s nary a pen or pencil to be found. Before you start buying, see what other parents have in their inventory. A neighborhood swap is simple to organize and saves everyone money.
6. Comparison Shop
Whether it’s writing a book report or shopping for school supplies, procrastination is king for kids and adults alike. This year, avoid the expense of last-minute shopping and start early by comparing prices for more expensive items online. Generic items can be found through PriceGrabber, while deals on more specific items like ink cartridges are available through sites such as InkjetWilly.com.
7. Wait for Back-to-School Saturday
Sponsored by Teen Vogue, Back to School Saturday is a one-day event where partnering retailers offer big discounts on back-to school clothing and cosmetics. This year’s event will take place Aug. 10 and includes big-name participants such as Aeropostale, PacSun and Macy’s. Otherwise, wait even longer on those not-so-urgent purchases such as denim and sweaters. Retailers will promote markdowns on fall clothing come October as they make room for winter and holiday merchandise.
Andrea Woroch is a California-based consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. She has been featured on Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, and CNNMoney. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.
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