Help Your Budget Make the Grade for Back-to-School Shopping

Friday, August 02 at 10:20 AM
Category: Personal Finance

Alas, the lazy days of summer are approaching a remorseful end. You’re probably looking at your ever expanding to-do list of what to do to get your kids ready for school and wondering not only how you’ll have time for it but how you’ll afford it. In many of our communities, this weekend is a tax free holiday on qualified back-to-school items. This may include certain clothing, shoes, accessories, school supplies and instructional materials. Check with your state’s Department of Revenue or similar entity for a list of eligible purchases.

Before embarking and while shopping for back-to-school this year, take these tips into consideration.

Before shopping:

  • Hold a swap party with friends and neighbors. Last year's barely used supplies or lightly worn clothes may be brand new and exciting for someone else. The more you can re-use or get from a friend the less you will need to purchase.
  • Make a list of needs vs. wants. On one list write down the items that are essential. In another list write the items that would be nice to have. These two lists will come in handy when making purchasing decisions.
  • Develop a budget. This is often one of the most dreaded, and skipped, part of a shopping trip.  To make the process less dreaded, call it a “spending plan.” Determine how you will spend your money so you can identify how to reduce some expenses. 
  • Read sale ads carefully. Some may say "quantities limited" or "not available at all stores." Before you step out of the house, call or check online to make sure the merchant has the item in stock. If you're shopping for a popular or hard-to-find item, then ask the merchant if they'd be willing to hold the item until you can get to the store.

While shopping:

  • Go early. With limited quantities and a surplus of people shopping for the same things, stores will sell out quickly. 
  • Shop around. Just because it’s on sale or tax free doesn’t mean you should buy it on the spot. Price comparable items at other stores nearby. Don’t forget to include consignment shops in other stores you look at.
  • Use credit cards with reward incentives. You might as well be rewarded for a purchase you have to make anyway! Enjoy 5,000 rewards points when you sign up for a new Arvest Credit Card with Arvest Rewards before September 30, 2013.
  • Stock up on basics for the whole year. Grab extras of commonly used items (e.g., paper, pencils, glue sticks, folders, etc.) when they're on sale and stash them away for later in the school year when supplies run low or items need refreshing.

Remember, educating yourself before and while shopping will help you make the grade for your back-to-school shopping experience!

Tags: Budgeting, Financial Education
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