How to save on back-to-school shopping
As the excitement of the July Fourth holiday weekend quiets down, you might notice that stores are featuring back-to-school inventory. It's a good thing, because a new survey by Rubicon Project reports that nearly 25 percent of parents with children in kindergarten through 12th grade have already begun shopping for the upcoming school year.
Start thinking about the items you need now, and you can take advantage of early sales as well as take the pressure off later in the summer when you're trying to enjoy the waning long, sunny days. Here are a few tips to navigate sales during the next few months and spend less money and time on shopping:
Don't buy what you don't need.
It's so tempting to snatch up shiny new notebooks and folders right away in the beautifully designed display cases you see in stores, but wait before you buy. The first thing to do is dig through last year's backpacks and desks with your kids to find out what supplies are left over. Chances are there are a few things that weren't even opened yet. Take inventory of everything you have, including each child's wardrobe, and then make a list of what supplies and clothing is needed for next year.
Get the list, check it twice.
If you have not yet received a list from your child's teacher with required supplies, contact the school and ask for one. This is especially important for specific items you might need (like certain models of calculators), which you might want to buy early to make sure you get them before a store runs out.
As for the generic supplies, such as folders, notebooks and pencils, consider scheduling a quick shopping trip late in the summer. You can get great bargains as stores try to clear the shelves of these popular items when school is about to start.
Stay home and shop.
If you think you need to head to stores to get back-to-school supplies and great deals, you might be pleasantly surprised to find out that you can do most of your shopping from home. Often you can combine additional discounts with sales on school supplies, technology and fall clothing. Visit your favorite coupon website and check for codes that will take an additional percentage off your total or get free shipping on an order. Always search for codes before checking out to make sure you're not missing any deals.
Another way to save money on your online shopping is clicking through a cash back website before you make your purchase to earn a percentage back on your order. You might find that certain stores are offering bonus cash back rates to celebrate the back-to-school season. Loyalty cards can also help stack up on the savings, especially if you're shopping at retailers that are already familiar to you.
A new event this year is Amazon Prime Day. On July 15, Amazon is hosting a major sales event for its Prime members and is claiming there will be even more deals than Black Friday. If you're not an Amazon Prime member, you can sign up for a 30-day free membership to gain access to the sales. This could be an especially great opportunity to look for deals on electronics like laptops that are needed for school.
If your kids love the annual tradition of heading to the mall or the outlets to shop for school, you don't have to miss out on that fun day together. Check to see if your state hosts a tax-free holiday weekend – they usually occur in early August. Bring along your smartphone and check online before you make any purchases to make sure you're getting the best deal. You can also use a coupon website or mobile app to access coupons for use in the store. If you don't end up buying an item you want in the store, you can purchase it online and find a free shipping offer. That way you can make sure your kids each get a few things they really want without emptying your wallet.
I hope that with these tips and suggestions you'll find yourself breezing through the back-to-school shopping season and saving money in the process. Then, you, and your kids, can focus on learning!
Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report
Check out some great back-to-school items from target in the slideshow below.