Back to School
For students, the summer is about to start winding down. Schools may start contacting you with supplies lists and schedule updates. Students in colleges and trade programs may be gearing up to put their nose to the grindstone. And adults and non-traditional students may be looking at ways to fit continuing education into their work-life balance. To help you get ready, here are five tips for back to school shopping.
- Don’t Buy Anything You Already Have
Even if you already have the school supplies at home, it's tempting to buy new ones for your children. If you do, you're spending money on supplies you might not need. Check your current supplies to see if you really need to buy new pens, pencils, folders, calculators or even backpacks. You may be able to use or reuse old supplies. Younger children may be able to use hand-me-down items that don’t wear out such as a scientific calculator.
- Buy Only the Essentials
Every child in school will receive a supply list. Review the list with your children and teachers to determine what is essential to start with. If some items aren’t needed until later in the year, you may be able to spread out the purchase of other supplies over time. By purchasing only the things your family needs for the first couple of weeks of school, you may be able to minimize the cost shock of a supply list.
- Tax-Free Days
Many states offer “tax holidays” or days in which school supplies (or even all purchases, depending upon the state) are free from sales tax to lessen the burden on families. The dates vary from state to state, and not every state offers them. If your state offers a tax holiday, be sure to schedule your back to school buying during the tax-free period. Some online retailers will honor your state’s tax-free dates as well (when applicable.) You can find a list of dates and states here.
- Shopping Online
If you are in a rural location where driving into town to do your shopping is inconvenient, you may be able to find everything you need by shopping online. If the cost of shipping is low or free, it could save you a trip. No need to burn a tank of gas if everything you need can be delivered right to your door. In addition, you may be able to spend less time traveling between store locations and searching through aisles, helping you save money and time.
- Always Have a Budget
Set a budget for the first few weeks of school as soon as you decide what you must buy. Using cash is a good way to stick to your budget. Take only the amount of cash you have budgeted for in order to eliminate impulse purchases. You may opt to use a credit card if you need to purchase a larger item such as a laptop and do not have immediate cash on-hand. This is an excellent way to earn rewards points that you could use later in the year to purchase school supplies. Just be sure you pay off your credit card balance as soon as possible to minimize or eliminate interest.
By following these five tips, you can help lessen the hit your pocketbook takes during the back to school shopping season. Help teach the young ones in your life how to set goals, track budgets and earn interest. Learn more about Young Savers accounts today!
Sources: Consumer Reports, Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, Youth.gov