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Money Saving Tips for Back to School Shopping

Published: 07/26/2019

By: First American Credit Union

Back to School

Back to School shopping can turn into a financial burden for parents who need to buy expensive calculators, USB drives, laptops, clothes, and shoes. You could end up spending hundreds of dollars—maybe even more—per child each year. If you're a parent and you're worried your bank account won't be able to take the financial hit, here are a few tips to help save you money this time of year:

Take inventory

Chances are good your kids didn't use every one of their school supplies from last year. Take a day to figure out what they truly need versus what they'd like to have. Clean out their closets to find unused erasers, pencils, folders, or even backpacks that can be reused.   And from now on, start stockpiling basic supplies. Any time you see on-sale notebooks, tape, and other frequently used items, buy them while they are cheap and put them away for next year.

Create a list.

Start with the supply list provided by your child’s teacher or school. These things are typically essential to your child’s schoolwork. Then, add in outside needs like-new clothing, a backpack, a lunch bag, and study aids.  Look through the list to see what you already have that you can cross off—getting rid of wasteful spending.

Try to avoid adding too many extras. For your clothing list, first, determine what your kids have currently. Find out what school clothing still fits and isn’t worn out, then add whatever is needed to round out their wardrobe.  Remember, even if your student wears a uniform, you’ll still need to consider outerwear, socks, shoes, and undergarments.

Create a budget.

Working from a budget is the best way to buy responsibly and save money, no matter what is on your shopping list. Use your list to help you determine the total amount you want to spend, and then break that number down into categories of supplies and clothing.

Now that you know, what your children really need for school this year, sit down and make a budget. Involve them in this process and have them help you itemize out how much to spend on various items. This practice is valuable because it will show them how far money goes compared to their wants and needs and can encourage valuable money-managing skills.

Manage cash on the go.

Use your First American Credit Union Mobile Banking app to keep track of your back-to-school spending and stick to that budget! Mobile Banking is a fast and secure way to perform banking tasks with ease. For example, you can check your account balances, deposit a check by taking a picture, transfer money between your eligible accounts, handle your online bill pay needs, and even locate the closest ATM or branch while you’re on the run.

Use your First American Credit Union debit card.

When you choose your First American debit card, you 10 cents every time you swipe, tap, or spend online. With MyChecking, your member bonus adds up quickly, and it doesn't matter what supplies you're purchasing - earning member bonuses means you can say "Yes" to more!

Start early.

Many retailers start their back-to-school promotions early. So if you’re ready to shop, you’ll have more options to choose from, which can translate into more savings.

Shop on Sunday and Monday — supplies run out quickly.  Weekly sales often start Sunday mornings, and back-to-school inventory isn’t always restocked quickly (or at all if, you’re shopping in August).

Shop around.

Do some research online to see who has the best prices on your necessity items, if you find a deal advertised by another store, ask the store you’re in if they’ll match the lower price.  Several national retailers do this all the time. You can also compare prices while you’re shopping using smartphone apps like ShopSavvy.

Buy in bulk.

Consider buying large quantities of items that get frequently and don’t change in format or style often (pencils, notebook paper, printer paper, etc.). You may pay more now, but when you examine the price-per-item breakdown, you’ve actually spent less. Plus, you’ll have what you need on-hand, preventing those frantic, last-minute supply runs.

Skip the trends.

Kids can be fickle, and the backpack that’s cool in July may not be the one they want when they see what their friends have in mid-August. Either stick with more generic items (instead of those covered with movie characters or logos) or hold off on one item and let them choose a “trendy” version right after school begins. Chances are, whatever is left will be marked down by then.

The bottom line is don’t let school expenses take a bite out of your finances. Include what you can in your budget, and if you need a little help with some of the bigger purchases, like buying your child a laptop or a car, First American Credit Union may be able to help get your child ready for back to school with a personal loan or a car loan.

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