Back to School Shopping Tips

Back to School Shopping Tips
Article Financial Two Cents

It's crazy how time flies…summer is almost over! While many parents are probably rejoicing, I'm sure they aren't looking forward to the back to school shopping bill. Many school supply lists seem to get longer and longer, and if you have more than one child your bill can really add up.

We’ve put together a few tips to help you get through your school supply shopping and start planning ahead for next year.

1.) Shop at your local dollar store – Here in Hilo, you can visit places like Deals & Steals to search for things like notebooks, packs of pencils, pens and even backpacks. You’re likely to find much better prices in places like these, though you may not find the brands you’re used to seeing at traditional stores. You might not find everything on your child’s school supply list there, but you can save on the items you do find.

2.) Watch for sales – As the beginning of the school year inches closer, you’ll see ads coming out with lots of deals on school supplies. Take advantage of these deals! But be sure to go early, or they may run out of the supplies you need. One tip to plan ahead for next year? Watch for clearance sales after the school year has already started. Stores will be looking to clear out their inventory and slash down prices dramatically. Use this time to stock up on supplies that you most commonly find on your list for next year.

3.) Have your child pitch in – Does your keiki earn an allowance? Or maybe they have a small job or business (like a lemonade stand) that they use to earn money? Have them pitch in each month to help save up! Back to school shopping doesn’t only mean folders, pencils, notebooks and all the other office related things, but it also takes in to account new clothes, shoes, and even a backpack. Having your child pitch in with the expenses, even a small amount, helps them to understand the costs of the things that they want (especially if they tend to ask you to buy the most expensive name-brand items), but it also may teach them to be more responsible with their items since they helped pay for it.

4.) Skip the name-brand items – One great thing to look out for is the store brand of the item that you’re buying. For example, instead of purchasing Crayola crayons, look for a store brand version, like Up & Up. The item works just the same, but you’re not paying for the name so you’ll find a much better price.

5.) Plan ahead for next year, starting now – Although this tip may not help you with this year’s school supply shopping, it could help you make next year a much easier process. Instead of waiting for next summer to start worrying about how much you have to spend (and avoid charging it to credit cards), plan ahead! Sit down with your receipts after you finish this year’s shopping and figure out how much you spent. Is it your typical spending? If so, use it as a guide. Take that amount and divide it by 12 to figure out how much you would have to put away each month to have that amount saved up by next year. See if you can fit that into your budget as another line item for savings – school supplies. For example, if you spent $450 on school supplies this year, you would have to put away $37.50 each month from now until the same time next year in order to save up $450 again. If that’s do-able for your budget, stick to that every month and you won’t have to worry about funds when the next year rolls around.