The annual back-to-school rush is underway. The kids are excited, and parents’ stretched wallets are further strained by the added demand for school supplies. Every penny saved is a small windfall that will undoubtedly be stretched to cover the next item on the list. Some parents are like old pros at this game. For the ones who aren’t, or those who need a few ideas, read on.
The best place to get started may be the place these supplies will be used. Many schools host annual open houses before the new school term begins. This gives parents an opportunity to pick up a list of supplies specific to the child’s class. As an added bonus, some schools will hand out free supplies, such as pencils, pens, folders, and notebooks to open-house attendees. These giveaways cut the supply list shorter, leaving a bit more room in the parents’ school supply budget.
Keep an eye on the sales fliers and local retailers. Most stores offer sales, deals and even rebates on school supplies at this time of year. Shop around and compare prices. Make sure the sale is a real discount, however, and not a disguised mark-up. If a retailer normally sells an item for $10, and it is advertised ‘on sale’ for $9.99 with a regular price of $15, it would be wiser to look elsewhere for the item. Most retail outlets and office supply stores know this is one of the biggest shopping times of the year, and they offer lower prices and better sales to generate higher revenue.
Stick to a budget and a list. With the hustle and bustle of back-to-school shopping, it’s easy to get sidetracked. Don’t be tempted to stray from the supply list and strain a tight budget for what seems like a great sale. Be sure a purchase is necessary, not an impulse buy, and do not buy more than is needed. Buying an item in bulk when it isn’t in the budget doesn’t always save money. As a consumer, remember one fact that the retailers think about daily: there will be other holidays, and they will have sales to commemorate those holidays. If a child only needs four packs of ballpoint pens, buying ten packs is neither necessary nor a money-saver.
For the more expensive items such as electronics, look into sales-tax holidays and student discounts. Many states have designated days to buy back-to-school items without a sales tax. The amount saved varies by state. When used in combination with a good sale price, these tax holidays can add up to more dollars in a parent’s wallet. ID-holding students can get discounts on computers and related items from companies like Dell, HP, and Apple. There are special bonuses for back-to-school supplies offered, as well, and most can be used along with the sales tax holidays.
Back-to-school shopping means doing some homework for parents too. Check with the school. Make a budget and stick to the supply list. Compare prices for the best deals and biggest savings. Make the various sales, discounts, and sales-tax holidays work together to save more. Shopping for back-to-school supplies doesn’t have to break the bank. With a little studying, research, and diligence, a parent’s hard work can add up to real savings, and dividing those limited dollars won’t be so difficult.