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Back-To-School Financial Tips

August 16, 2017Building Your Future

According to the Huntington Bank Backpack Index, the cost of school supplies increased 88% from 2007 to 2016, and their recently released 2017 report anticipates increases of 1.0% for elementary and 4.6% for middle schoolers this coming school year. Even so, there are reasons that parents can feel good about back-to-school shopping:

  • It’s an exciting time of year, and parents can share in their children’s enthusiasm.
  • It’s a chance to spend time with your kids while teaching them smart shopping habits.
  • It’s an opportunity for what I call “painless savings:” if you consistently watch your spending on “the small stuff” like school supplies, groceries, and clothing, over time you can significantly increase your overall savings.
School kids hanging out bus windows

To maximize the learning experience, involve your kids in the back-to-school shopping process. Start by reading this article with them. Together, identify your spending goals and decide where you’ll do your shopping. Discuss a strategy for spending on “extra” things that are not on the shopping list. For example, when your child can’t live without a new tablet, even though you think her current one is fine, who gets the final say?

Six tips to consider before you go back-to-school shopping:

  1. Visit your local brick and mortar retailers. Stores such as Staples and Walmart offer competitive bargains versus internet-only retailers. Look for specials and door busters, but try not to let good prices lure you into spending on things you don’t need. Also, don’t forget about local discount retailers, such as dollar stores, who have low pricing year-round.
  2. Use store coupons and rewards programs. Before heading to a retailer, check your mailbox for weekly coupons and store websites for printable coupons. Art supply stores such as Michaels often have coupons in the Sunday paper. Or simply download them onto your smart phone. These offer big savings you can use for more expensive items. Coupons may even be available to pick up “in store;” so don’t forget to ask once you’re there. You can also sign up for a store loyalty program where you can earn rewards points toward future purchases.
  3. Combine your deals. If you find a great sale at your local retailer, shop during a sales tax exemption period, use some coupons, and earn rewards points – you will have just hit the grand slam of savings!
  4. Online shopping is still the biggest time saver, and we all know time is money. If your family feels that time is your scarcest resource, searching for deals online may still be your best way to save both time and money.
  5. Buy used textbooks or download digital textbooks. If buying used books makes you cringe because you’re concerned about the quality of the retailer, be assured that both Chapters/Indigo and Amazon are the best places for used textbooks. But for really good value, you may want to look at online swap and sell groups like Kijiji or local Facebook selling groups.
  6. The best way to save may be not to spend at all; you may already have on hand some of the things on your shopping list. Look around your house before you go shopping.

Try to make the back-to-school shopping process a positive influence in your children’s financial education. Now that’s something everyone can feel good about!

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This article was written by Mark Avallone from Forbes, author of the novel Countdown to Financial Freedom, and was legally licensed by AdvisorStream through the NewsCred publisher network.

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