In less than a month, the kids will be back in school. It’s an exciting time of year for everyone … except your wallet. According to the National Retail Federation, families with school-aged children will spend an average of $637.78 on clothes, shoes, supplies and electronics.
Don’t panic yet. There are lots of savvy ways to save a few bucks if you just know where to look, according to Letha Harrelson, who manages financial education for Security Service Federal Credit Union. She suggests nine easy tips.
- Shop at home. Not online … in your closets. You might be surprised at where you’ll find pencils, folders and binders hiding around.
- Sell last year’s styles. Before you head out the door to buy more, go through your child’s wardrobe and sell gently used items at a nearby resale shop. Put those funds towards the new clothes. And whatever you can’t sell, donate. Be sure to keep a receipt so you can write off the donation on your taxes for the year.
- Visit Half Price Books. Take some old books and trade them up for that dictionary and thesaurus on your school’s supply list.
- Go for the doorbusters. Office supply stores, book stores, grocery stores and others are pulling out the stops to get you into the store by offering free or very, very low cost items. If you don’t mind making more than one stop, check Sunday newspaper inserts, smartphone apps and store websites. Make a list of the deals you want to take advantage of, plot your route and head out for great savings.
- Follow the brands you use on Facebook and Twitter and sign up for their emails to get special deals.
- Follow through on rebates. How many times have you bought something with a rebate and ended up never pulling together the materials and actually getting the rebate in the mail. It’s not a deal if you don’t get the money back.
- Know when to spend a little extra money. If you buy really inexpensive shoes and have to replace them every four months, it may be cheaper to buy one higher quality pair of shoes that will last through the school year.
- Use the opportunity to teach your kids about how to make a budget and stick to it. If you don’t want them carrying around cash, consider a debit card on a youth account. Just be sure to set the account to “no overdraft protection” so they can’t spend money they don’t have and incur extra fees.