It’s that time of year again! Summer is winding down, teachers are prepping their classrooms, and it’s time for students and parents to prepare for the new school year. While returning to school can be an exciting time, it can also be an expensive season. Back-to-school shopping can include clothes, digital devices, backpacks, paper supplies – the list goes on. Just like financial planning, saving money on back-to-school shopping requires a plan as well. Following a few back-to-school savings tips will help you prepare for the new school year without breaking the bank.
Tip #1: Review the School Supply List and Take Inventory
Most schools provide a recommended school supplies list. Get a hold of this list as soon as it’s available and see what you already have in your home. It’s likely that you have left over or reusable supplies from previous school years. You’ll be able to cut down on your spending by only buying what you need. If the school does not provide you with a supply list, do a search on Google to help you find examples you can tailor to your needs.
Tip #2: Create a Budget
Once you have a clear idea of what you need, it’s time to make a budget. Not only should items for the school supply list be accounted for, but also think of items like seasonal clothing and shoes, backpacks and lunchboxes, electronics, and equipment for after school activities such as sports and music. Make sure to look at the entire school year to ensure your budget covers all the expenses that might occur. This is also a great time to involve your children in the process of determining how much to spend on various items. It’s important to teach them how far money goes in relation to their wants and needs, and it helps foster valuable money-managing skills at an early age.
Tip #3: Look for Bargains, Use Coupons, and Take Advantage of Student Discounts
Keep your eyes and ears peeled for promotions that can be taken advantage of. Check your mailbox for weekly coupons and spend time on store websites looking for printable or downloadable coupons. Whether you’re shopping online or in store, buying in bulk can help you reap the benefits of additional savings and prepare you for future supply needs. Remember to utilize student discounts whenever possible, particularly when considering purchasing expensive items like computers, tablets and printers.
Tip #4: Shop and Sell Secondhand
Take any outgrown or no longer needed items to a local consignment store to sell, then use any money made toward this year's school purchases. While selling your items you can also look at the consignment shop for affordable, gently used school supplies and clothing to add to this year’s wardrobe. If you’re shopping for high school or college students, purchase used textbooks when possible and sell any previous years’ textbooks that are no longer needed.
Tip #5: Take Advantage of Sales Tax Holiday Week
Connecticut’s sales tax holiday week begins on the third Sunday in August and continues until the following Saturday. Most clothing and footwear priced under $100 is sold tax free, saving you money! There are some exceptions to the sales tax exemption, so it’s important to check what’s covered ahead of time. The state of Connecticut’s website has a list of what is and is not covered during the holiday week.
Tip #6: Shop AFTER School Starts
Skip the August shopping rush by using what you already have for the first few weeks of school. It’s usually still warm outside when school starts, so students can get away with wearing summer clothes. Waiting to shop gives students a chance to see what’s really in style and help them determine what they really want to wear this year. It can also help you determine the must-haves versus the wants, helping you to avoid any unnecessary purchases. Finally, by waiting to shop a few weeks after school starts, you’ll be able to take advantage of Labor Day sales as well as back-to-school clearance deals.
If you choose not to pay cash for your back-to-school items, Dutch Point Credit Union is here is to help. Our low-rate credit cards and personal loans can help you get all the things you need without derailing your finances.
Following these tips will help you feel better prepared to send your children back to school. Careful planning and decision making can help you spend less and save more!