Parenting: Back to School without blowing your budget
August 16, 2011 (WPVI) -- If you're dreading back-to-school shopping because it seems to blow your budget in record time, don't despair. There are some ways to cut your costs and pace yourself to outfit your young student in new clothes, shoes and school supplies without paying the credit card bills til Christmas! Consumer expert Andrea Woroch has some tips to help simplify things.
1. Take Inventory
Consider what you'll actually need before hitting the stores. Has your child grown out of their schools clothes/shoes? I have my son Jake do a mini fashion show in his room so I can see what still fits, what is worn out, what he likes and what he needs before we go to the store.
2. Set a Budget
Create a shopping list and stick to it, so you avoid impulse purchases.
3. Use Coupons
There may be great deals, but coupons can make them even greater. Check out sites like CouponSherpa.com that offer a wide selection of online, printable, and mobile coupons for back to school savings.
4. Shop Very Early or Wait
While it seems awfully early to think about school shopping, this is when stores are rolling out their best deals of the year. Either go in late July or wait til after Labor Day when school stuff goes on sale.
5. Go Mobile or Check Social Media
Tap into your mobile phone with apps like "RedLaser," which allows you to scan bar codes and find any cheaper prices online or at other retailers. Twitter and Facebook are great places to find deals offered to a brand's social-media fan base. "Like" or "Follow" the merchant and keep an eye out for coupons and sales announcements.
6. Buy in Bulk
Take advantage of bulk offers on pens, crayons, paper and other items your kids will burn through over the course of the year. You might team up with other parents for bigger bulk purchases that will bring prices down even lower.
7. Spend More to Save More
Sometimes it costs money to save money. For example, Staples offers a 15-percent savings pass for $10, which you can use throughout the back-to-school season.
8. Try gently used clothing
Shop at second-hand stores that offer nice, gently used clothing. Sneakers can often be a budget breaker. I suggest checking a place like John's Sneaks in Ardmore where name brand, new sneaks are ½ off every day.
And I suggest pacing your purchases&suggest that your child start with a new backpack, new shoes and 2 or 3 new outfits, then save the rest of the wardrobe til the holidays so you can avoid big credit card bills. Of course, pay cash when you can to avoid those high interest rates.
Try to enjoy getting your young students back in gear for school!
monica malpass parenting reports, parenting, monica malpass
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