By Julie Jaggernath
There’s no shortage of smart back-to-school shopping tips for 2017 when you look online. From blogs to Facebook posts, back to school shopping articles in the news, Pins and other social shares. But if you’re looking for more ideas to save money, or new ideas to make back to school shopping easier on your finances, here are a few tips that won’t work for everyone, but are still worth considering:
Use Your Loyalty Points
Loyalty and credit card points add up – but for what? If you can trade your points in for cash, discounts, or items on your back to school shopping list, why not. Saving up your points for a trip or household appliance is great, but you might be further ahead if you use the points now. Then you can avoid charging as much back-to-school shopping on a credit card, you’ll save on interest and/or fees, and then you can open a savings account to set money aside for your trip or appliance.
By not saving points for years at a time, you maintain better control over what you use your points and money for. You also aren’t at the mercy of a program that might change its policies around how reward points can be used before you’re ready to redeem your points.
Let Your Kids Know to Play By the Rules or Stay at Home
Back to school shopping is a good time for kids to learn about sticking to a list, following a shopping budget, and deciding between needs and wants. However, if your kids aren’t ready to play by your rules, leave them at home. Shopping on your own will make it easier to stay focused, get what you need, and not blow your budget. After all, back-to-school doesn't automatically mean buy-everything-new.
Who is Up for the Challenge?
Kids, especially teenage boys, love a challenge. If your kids are older, harness their competitive spirits. Let them know what your budget is and then make it a contest to see who can get what they need and still have money left over. This is a great time to show them how to comparison shop, what to watch out for in the fine print of ads, and why not buying the least expensive version of an item is sometimes a good idea. Take binders, for instance. The cheapest binders might save you a few dollars now, but when they break part way through the school year and need to be replaced with others at full price, the up-front savings aren’t worth it.
School Supplies Make Great Holiday & Birthday Gifts
School supplies and items that can be used at school make great Christmas and holiday gifts. From stocking stuffers to more expensive items, buy them now on sale and hide them well, maybe even at your office or in your neighbour’s garage (get their permission, of course!). Many kids have everything they need, so to avoid feeling like you’re just buying a holiday or birthday gift for the sake of having something to wrap, give them a school supply item they really want and need. And how cool to get new school supplies part way through the year!
The Smartest Back to School Shopping Tips?
The smartest back to school shopping tips are the ones that work for you. If you need to shop only with cash, buy things at several stores to get the best deals, use paper or online coupons, mix and match brand name clothes with less pricey items, ask your older kids to chip in for more desired labels, or shop at home first and then only buy what you really need – do what works best for you and your family. Kids and teens need so many things throughout the year. Saving a little now will hopefully make another expense a little easier later on.