Most of your back to school shopping might be done, but that doesn?t mean you?re finished saving money. Make sure you are getting the biggest bang for your buck year-round.
Every fall my son and I sit down and make a list of things we need to get for school. This list includes everything from basic school supplies to new clothes to equipment needed for extra-curricular activities. Once you start adding up the costs ? especially as children grow and become more involved ? it can get overwhelming.
The National Retail Foundation estimated that Americans would spend about $68 billion on back to school shopping this year. And, even if school has already started for your kids, you are probably still spending. Here are some things to keep in mind when shopping for school, no matter the time of year.
Double-Check Your Supplies
The first thing I do, before spending a dime, is check through the school supplies we already have. Some school supplies, like paper, colored pencils, markers and index cards are items that we regularly have on hand. There?s no reason to go out and buy what you already have.
I also make my son try on his clothes. It?s not exactly fun for him, but it?s something that is necessary. If he has three pairs of jeans that fit fine, and are still in good condition, there?s no reason to rush out and buy more. Same for shirts. While many kids like to have some new clothes for school, there?s no need to replace the entire wardrobe ? especially if what they have fits.
You can also look for supplies from friends and family. My son?s saxophone is the same instrument I used in high school; it?s been sitting in my mom?s closet for 17 years. Arrange a neighborhood swap for sporting equipment, band instruments and other supplies.
Look for Discounts and Sales
After finishing our inventory, I realized that my son could use some more school-appropriate shorts and a couple more shirts. We looked for a sale, and bought all of his clothes on clearance. For instance, one of the great things about buying at the end of the summer is that it?s still warm enough for shorts and short-sleeved shirts, but all of these items are on sale at the stores.
I?ll hold off on buying the long-sleeved shirts and longer pants until those items go on sale in a few months. Buying a size ahead can also help. One of the reasons my son has jeans that fit him now is because I regularly buy his jeans one or two sizes too big during the clearance sales at the end of the spring. That way, when school does come around, he already has what he needs ? and I didn?t have to pay full price.
Don?t forget to watch for sales on school supplies. Pay attention to sales tax holidays as well, since many of them can save you money on your purchases. Search the Internet for promo codes and coupons that can be applied on top of sales to save even more.
Another good way to find discounted items is to buy second-hand. Sporting equipment can usually be bought second-hand. My son wants to take up fencing this year, and I?m already checking the second-hand shops and online message boards for the necessary equipment.
Take Advantage of Credit Card Rewards
Finally, when completing your shopping, don?t forget to use your rewards credit card. I always integrate credit cards in my financial planning and it allows me to earn rewards on things I would buy anyway.
Consider your own goals and future purchases when deciding which credit card to use. The BuyPower Card from Capital One can help you earn toward an eligible new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicle, so it?s a great tool if you think there?s a new car in your future. There are plenty of other credit cards that also offer rewards programs that might fit your needs, like cash back or airline miles. If you can complete your back to school shopping with a rewards credit card, you increase the value of your purchases ? especially if you employ savings strategies.
What about your strategies? How do you save on back to school shopping?
Thank you Capital One for sponsoring this post! This is a paid endorsement. All opinions are my own and were not directed by Capital One. To learn more about the BuyPower Card from Capital One visit?www.BuyPowerCard.com.