Back-to-School Shopping Tips

All this week we'll be updating this page with new tips.  Make sure to check back on Wednesday and Friday for the other two installments!

According to the National Retail Federation's annual survey, some parents will spend almost $670 to get one child ready for school this year (bankrate.com).  And most school district's classes are starting in the next two weeks.  Last minute panic spending could get you close to that $670.  Don't worry; we've got you covered for back-to-school shopping tips!

So, where do you even start?  Getting everyone ready for school seems like such a daunting task.  Start with taking an inventory of what you already have.  Go through clothing and supplies from last year.  You'll probably be surprised at what you have and what could be used again.  Once you have your inventory you can compare what you have to "the list" and start crossing items off of it.

1. Have a plan for what you're going to do with items that need to be tossed and those that you'll keep.  You may have clothes that don't fit your students anymore, but are still in good enough shape that they could be donated to a local charity.  make a pile of things that can be donated and a pile of things that can't be.  You'll get yourself organized and help out someone else in your community at the same time. When your kids finish school for the summer - keep all the supplies they have left in one central spot.  A large plastic container with pencils, binders, paper, notebooks, colored pencils, pens, etc.... will help you get started the next fall.

2.  Create a spending plan and stick to it!  One of the hardest things to do in general when it comes to your finances is sticking to the plan.  There are always distractions and temptations pulling at your wallet.  The best way to help keep yourself on a budget is shopping with a list.  Because you have already created the mindset that the things on your list are what you need you will be less likely to make impulse purchases.

You don't have to carry pen and paper around with you when shopping.  Just about every smartphone has some kind of note-keeping application.  Just type in your list and update it as you go along.  Many stores will have a paper ad with sales and coupons located near the front entrance.  Check out the ads, you can target sale items that match with items on your list.  Another good idea to help you stick to that plan is to leave the kids at home.  Even the most well-behaved children want tings, and it is easy to give in to their requests for the newest fidget spinner conveniently located on the end-cap of the school supplies aisle.

3. Shop online when you can!  Take advantage of the convenience of modern online retailers technology.  Shopping online combines having a plan, shopping with a list and avoiding other distractions.  There will almost always be ads on the page you're looking at trying to get you to buy extra items, but it's nothing like the temptation of being in the store and seeing the physical item.  When shopping online your only a click away from knowing the total price of your order; in some cases you don't even have to click on the shopping cart to see your total.

Bonus:  If you're an Amazon Prime member - you'll get free 2-day shipping on all of the Prime eligible items you order.

Follow these tips and you're sure to stay within your back-to-school budget this year!