7 Mother-Authorised Purchasing Hacks to Make Again-to-Faculty a Breeze
Though it feels like the summer vacation has just begun, retailers are preparing for the highly anticipated pre-school shopping craze thanks to the excitement of kids returning to the classroom in person across much of the country this year. According to a recent survey by Mastercard, consumer sales are projected to increase 5.5 percent year-over-year and 6.7 percent year-over-year from mid-July to early September. Among the hottest ticket items, apparel sales are likely to soar with both adults and the kids eventually making their way back to the classroom and office in person.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of returning to our new normal and spending too much money to make up for the tough times your kids went through, but falling into debt will only hurt you (and them) in the long run . Instead, try these mom-approved tips from an on-air money expert.
Shop at home first.
Before you go to the store, do some research in your home for any leftover school supplies that can be used for the upcoming school year, such as pencils, folders, or even half-used notebooks. This is also a good time to start browsing your children’s clothing to see what fits and what doesn’t. Then keep a rolling list of what you have and what to buy to stay organized and avoid duplication.
Swap instead of buy.
Chances are you have piles of adult clothing, unwanted school supplies, and used sporting goods. Instead of wasting these items, swap them out for new items that your kids need to limit your spending. For example, swap children’s clothing with the Swoondle Society, swap sporting goods with Swap Me Sports, and join a non-buying group on Facebook (or start one for your area!).
Choose used or refurbished.
Whether you are looking for clothes or a laptop, stretch your buck by buying gently used or refurbished options. Go to your local consignment store for cheap teenage clothing, or browse fashion resale sites like Poshmark or thredUP. You can even find refurbished tablets and laptops to help save on the school’s tech needs, but check warranty details and return policy before purchasing.
Dodge sales tax.
There are 17 states including Alabama, Florida, and Texas that hold tax-free sales for certain school purchases in July and August, which is a great time to shop and save. Florida, for example, waives sales tax on clothing, school supplies, and computers from July 31 to August 9. Visit TaxAdmin.org for details on the 2021 sales tax holidays to see where and when to shop for tax free.
Check the ads in the store to see who is selling what at the best price, then apply coupons on top of sales to make your money even further. Sites like CouponFollow.com put the best back to school coupons on one page so you can quickly identify the biggest savings. You can find deals like 25 percent off at Office Depot and apply them to discounted supplies. Keep track of prices even after you’ve made your purchase as offers may fluctuate and you may be entitled to a price adjustment. Apps like Paribus will notify you when they detect a price drop and even ask for money back on your behalf.
Earn more cashback.
Check your credit card rewards program to see if there are any bonus offers for shopping in specific stores in August and plan your school purchases accordingly. Don’t forget to sign up for free in-store loyalty programs to receive rewards that can be used on future school supplies purchases. For example, Staples loyalty members receive 2 percent back and Dell Advantage loyalty members receive 6 percent on purchases. Finally, download a cashback plug like Cently on your browser to start earning cashback while shopping online. At the moment you get 2.5 percent cashback at Office Depot, up to 1.5 percent at Dell and up to 4 percent back at GAP.
Consider getting a new card for a sign-up cash bonus that you can use on a more expensive school item like a new laptop. For example, Capital One’s Quicksilver credit card offers $ 200 if you spend $ 500 within the first three months. Before signing up, use a credit card matching tool like GigaPoints to find the best cashback card based on your buying behavior.
Tame the temptation to buy everything before school starts – some items are even cheaper later. For example, Labor Day will bring sales of summer basics such as T-shirts and tank tops that can be worn with layers all year round, including winter. Denim usually goes on sale with other fall clothing in October as retailers try to move their inventory to make room for Christmas items. Black Friday also offers a wide range of offers for laptops, tablets and other school equipment. So try to get along with what you have right now.
Andrea Woroch is a nationally recognized savings expert, author, speaker, and frequent presenter who is passionate about helping American families find easy ways to save more without radically changing their lifestyle. Andrea has appeared on hundreds of popular shows around the country including Today, Good Morning America, Dr. Oz, CNN, Inside Edition, and ABC World News, plus hundreds of regional shows around the country. Her advice and articles have been published in the New York Times, Time, Money, Cosmopolitan, Forbes, Huffington Post, and others. Andrea also writes a bi-monthly column for US News and World Report and hosts a monthly money segment on KTLA Morning News in Los Angeles. Andrea lives in Bakersfield, California with her husband and two young daughters.