Money Monday – Maximize the Back-to-School Savings

Happy Shoppers

It’s that time of year again when most fret they haven’t finished their summer reading lists, and start demanding a new Fall wardrobe even though they may not need one.  The Back-to-School mantras and sales aren’t only for students and parents anymore – it really is for everyone.  Have you been putting off buying new items because things seem to be more expensive through the summer?  It’s not your imagination, it’s a reality.  A lot of companies do not offer a reasonable discount on most products after all the Mother’s Day promotions back in May.  Father’s Day and graduations do not really offer a financial break either.  So, when can we really maximize our need for new items without going broke?  The Back-to-School time frame.  I’m not sure not everyone needs new pens, pencils, or loose leaf paper, but home goods, electronics, and even car dealerships are willing to give you a better deal this time of year.  They want to unload all the older items before they get plenty of new stock in time for holiday shoppers.  It doesn’t matter which store is your favorite either.  They all will start putting the back stock out on the floor just to get it sold.  That’s why it’s hard to maneuver in the store until you realize the extra product on the floor.

For those of us who have kids and are dreading going over what seems like an endless shopping list of needs for the classroom, I suggest you partner up with other parents to help cut costs.  If you, or someone you know is a member of a big box store, or one with a membership, divide up your school list needs and buy in bulk.  You will have plenty of items for your kids for the school year, and even some extra to send to school for the classroom if need be.  Most classrooms always need tissues, antibacterial wipes, antibacterial hand soap or hand sanitizer – save yourself some money, time and hassle and buy these items in bulk.  I know some of these stores even carry backpacks and lunch boxes too with all the favorites your kids love stitched on there.  If that isn’t an option, and you are unable to take advantage of any one day passes a lot of these stores offer, the dollar store is another option to help pick up the slack.  My only gripe with the dollar store is everything is still a dollar, and most things don’t come in packs outside of pens and pencils.  The paper they sell is in smaller quantities and their notebooks have less paper too, so you will end up spending more than you anticipated.  Just be mindful of how fast those little carts get filled up.   As a tag along to working with friends and within your own families, remember that there are a lot of kids who don’t have the means to buy school supplies.  If you are fortunate to have a surplus of goods, try to donate to those who are in need.  All kids deserve a shot at a good education with the right tools regardless of their standing in life.

For all the coupon cutters out there, now is the time to get organized and utilize those coupons you have been saving on all the items you need.  I never acquired this coupon’ing skill.  I don’t have the time to scour the internet for deals or subscribe to multiple mailed ads to sort through while praying I don’t get too many paper cuts.  If you have this skill, or know someone who does, start getting organized.   The good thing is, most stores will take anyone’s (other stores and manufacture) coupons.  Whether they take expired coupons varies greatly from store to store.  The only store I know that doesn’t care if the coupon is expire or not is Bed, Bath & Beyond, but it has to be their 20% off coupon [unless they have changed their policy].  It never hurts to ask.

If you are seeking a new wardrobe, or only need to restock a few things around the house, this is also a great time to buy.  From boots to bras, a lot of stores are jumping on the Back-to-School Sales wagon.  Sometimes all you have to do is sign up for a companies emails and you are rewarded with 10-20% off your next shopping trip.  My serious advice is:  do not get sucked into saving money by signing up for any store’s credit card.  It is a debt you do not need to take on, and the percentage off you saved that one time does not save you any money in the long run.  Be responsible with your funds and your credit score.  If you do make the choice to enroll in a store credit card, do your best to pay that sucker off within the month of making the purchase.  Do not let any balance sit in the account and allow them start charging you interest.  I’m sure you have heard it before too, never only make the minimum payments.

Whatever your needs are, do a little research, and make the most of all the sales now.  Work together with friends and family to get everything you need for the upcoming school year or simply improve your life.   Do your best to make things more of a community effort, and help those in need if you can.  Good luck!

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