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How To Avoid Overspending And Save Money On Back-To-School Shopping

How To Avoid Overspending And Save Money On Back-To-School Shopping

It’s time to go back to school for a lot of kids and adults. That means it’s time to go get the pencils and pens, backpacks and shoes, and re-evaluate the old wardrobe. It can be an expensive time of year for parents and college students alike so here are some ways to do back to school shopping the smart way.

1. Wait for the end of the summer sales

Sales are a beautiful thing and the end of the summer usually gives you a lot of options of stuff to buy. Usually this is more for things like shoes, backpacks, and cloths. Many stores will have specific back to school shopping sales for school supplies too. You may have to wait into the first few weeks into the school year to find the sales, but they are there and patience is a virtue.

2. Anticipate by buying early

back to school shopping

    Your kids may need a new winter jacket or some new jeans. The best time to buy that stuff is during the opposite season that you’ll actually need it. A lot of stores will deeply discount these items during the spring or summer because people don’t normally buy winter jackets in the spring or summer. Buy them early enough and you can save yourself a pretty penny heading into fall. You can also get sales on school supplies like this sometimes if you keep an eye out.

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    3. Shop during your state’s tax free weekend

    There are 17 states that allow you to shop for school supplies tax free for a weekend to help you save money for the upcoming school year. You wouldn’t think that it’s a lot but if you’re shopping for two or three kids or you’re buying some new computer equipment, those costs (and therefore those taxes) can add up quickly. For a full list of states that do this every year, check this link. Sadly, many states have already had theirs but yours could still be upcoming and this is still valuable information for next year.

    4. Don’t buy in bulk

    Buying in bulk is a double edged sword. On one hand, you get a lot of stuff and the price per item is typically less than if you bought that item separately. On the other hand, you have to spend extra money to get things in bulk. In some cases it makes sense. Getting a $10 box of 50 pens is a great idea. Spending $20 on ten 3-ring binders or $30 on 15 spiral notebooks is a horrible idea. Unless you have six kids, you can usually save money on buying individually for most items.

    5. Donate or sell items you intend on discarding

    When you upgrade your (or your kids’) wardrobe, that means there are cloths that need to go. Instead of tossing them, you can sell them in a garage sale or at a second-hand store. This can earn you a few bucks to offset the money you just spent on newer cloths. Of course, if you’re well off, you could always donate them to charity too. Just a though.

    6. Find the free (or cheap) software for your computer

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    back to school shopping

      With school comes the need for some software. You (or your kids) will be writing essays, doing presentations, research projects, and all sorts of other stuff. Much like cloths, software goes on sale fairly frequently. There are also people who simply don’t need that much. You don’t need to spend $200 on Microsoft Office if your kid only needs to write the occasional school paper. Something like Google Drive (free) will work just as well. Many software vendors will have huge sales or even give away expensive software for free to college students. Just ask your college advisors or check sites like DreamSpark. Also, make sure you double check with schools before buying any software. You don’t want to fork out money for something you don’t need.

      7. Don’t spend too much on cloths

      Fashion is a fickle thing and shopping for all of the school cloths over the summer is usually a bad move. When the school year stars, new trends will happen and you (or your kids) may need a small update here and there to stay en vogue. If you spend less on cloths during the summer, you’ll have more on your budget to augment your style over the course of the fall and winter so you stay in style. Of course, that only applies if the current trends matter to you. Otherwise, some jeans, a t-shirt, and a jacket are still a solid way to go.

      8. Shop online

      Brick and mortar stores aren’t the only places that have back to school sales. Amazon, eBay, Newegg, and other online retailers often have similar sales for going back to school. You can find a surprising assortment of useful school items for relatively cheap online. Especially at places like Newegg where you can get a decent laptop for hundreds of dollars off if you don’t mind refurbished machines.

      9. Don’t give in to peer pressure

      According to a poll, the majority of parents feel peer pressure to buy things their kids don’t need because other parents bought their kids things. Don’t subject yourself to that nonsense. You and your kids’ school know what they need. If you have the budget after buying the essentials, then maybe spend a couple of bucks to buy your kid the cooler stuff that they probably don’t need but don’t feel like you have to do it. A pen is a pen, a 3-ring binder is a 3-ring binder. Dropping an extra $15 on it because it has Groot on it is absurd.

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      A much more cost effective (and fun) idea is to get things that are solid colored and then print out pictures and images of popular characters. Allowing your kids to customize their own stuff allows them to create what they want instead of buying something for two or three times the cost. It can save money and sometimes it looks even better than the store bought stuff.

      10. Look for student discounts

      We’ve mentioned it a little bit in earlier parts of this list, but student discounts are everywhere. Software sites like DreamSpark offer deeply discounted (or free) software for students. Many colleges have deals with software sellers to get you things like Microsoft Office for a deep discount (or free). Some brick and mortar stores will give you discounts if you show a student ID. They’re not everywhere but if you can find them, they do add up.

      11. Raid the coupon websites

      These days the best coupons are online. One of the the more popular coupon sites is RetailMeNot. By raiding the online coupon sites, you can find deals that people normally wouldn’t find in the newspaper coupons or in-store sales. Every dollar counts and coupons are a great way to make that money stretch.

      12. Offer your kids a bargain-reward solution

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      back to school shopping

        A fun strategy some parents use is allow their kids to bargain shop. If they can get all of their supplies in under a certain budget, you then reward that by letting them get a must-have item (almost) regardless of the cost. That puts the savings in the kids hands and allows them to choose what to cheap out on. You get to spend less and they don’t get mad at you for choosing cheap stuff for them. That’s a win-win.

         

        Back to school shopping is a yearly event. Once you figure out a plan that works for you and your kids, the next year gets easier because you already know what to do. Best of luck!

        Featured photo credit: Teaching Happily Ever After via teachinghappilyeverafter.blogspot.com

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        Published on November 8, 2018

        How to Answer the Tough Question: What are Your Salary Requirements?

        How to Answer the Tough Question: What are Your Salary Requirements?

        After a few months of hard work and dozens of phone calls later, you finally land a job opportunity.

        But then, you’re asked about your salary requirements and your mind goes blank. So, you offer a lower salary believing this will increase your odds at getting hired.

        Unfortunately, this is the wrong approach.

        Your salary requirements can make or break your odds at getting hired. But only if you’re not prepared.

        Ask for a salary too high with no room for negotiation and your potential employer will not be able to afford you. Aim too low and employers will perceive as you offering low value. The trick is to aim as high as possible while keeping both parties feel happy.

        Of course, you can’t command a high price without bringing value.

        The good news is that learning how to be a high-value employee is possible. You have to work on the right tasks to grow in the right areas. Here are a few tactics to negotiate your salary requirements with confidence.

        1. Hack time to accomplish more than most

        Do you want to get paid well for your hard work? Of course you do. I hate to break it to you, but so do most people.

        With so much competition, this won’t be an easy task to achieve. That’s why you need to become a pro at time management.

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        Do you know how much free time you have? Not the free time during your lunch break or after you’ve finished working at your day job. Rather, the free time when you’re looking at your phone or watching your favorite TV show.

        Data from 2017 shows that Americans spend roughly 3 hours watching TV. This is time poorly spent if you’re not happy with your current lifestyle. Instead, focus on working on your goals whenever you have free time.

        For example, if your commute to/from work is 1 hour, listen to an educational Podcast. If your lunch break is 30 minutes, read for 10 to 15 minutes. And if you have a busy life with only 30–60 minutes to spare after work, use this time to work on your personal goals.

        Create a morning routine that will set you up for success every day. Start waking up 1 to 2 hours earlier to have more time to work on your most important tasks. Use tools like ATracker to break down which activities you’re spending the most time in.

        It won’t be easy to analyze your entire day, so set boundaries. For example, if you have 4 hours of free time each day, spend at least 2 of these hours working on important tasks.

        2. Set your own boundaries

        Having a successful career isn’t always about the money. According to Gallup, about 70% of employees aren’t satisfied with their current jobs.[1]

        Earning more money isn’t a bad thing, but choosing a higher salary over the traits that are the most important to you is. For example, if you enjoy spending time with your family, reject job offers requiring a lot of travel.

        Here are some important traits to consider:

        • Work and life balance – The last thing you’d want is a job that forces you to work 60+ hours each week. Unless this is the type of environment you’d want. Understand how your potential employer emphasizes work/life balance.
        • Self-development opportunities – Having the option to grow within your company is important. Once you learn how to do your tasks well, you’ll start becoming less engaged. Choose a company that encourages employee growth.
        • Company culture – The stereotypical cubicle job where one feels miserable doesn’t have to be your fate. Not all companies are equal in culture. Take, for example, Google, who invests heavily in keeping their employees happy.[2]

        These are some of the most important traits to look for in a company, but there are others. Make it your mission to rank which traits are important to you. This way you’ll stop applying to the wrong companies and stay focused on what matters to you more.

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        3. Continuously invest in yourself

        Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make. Cliche I know, but true nonetheless.

        You’ll grow as a person and gain confidence with the value you’ll be able to bring to others. Investing in yourself doesn’t have to be expensive. For example, you can read books to expand your knowledge in different fields.

        Don’t get stuck into the habit of reading without a purpose. Instead, choose books that will help you expand in a field you’re looking to grow. At the same time, don’t limit yourself to reading books in one subject–create a healthy balance.

        Podcasts are also a great medium to learn new subjects from experts in different fields. The best part is they’re free and you can consume them on your commute to/from work.

        Paid education makes sense if you have little to no debt. If you decide to go back to school, be sure to apply for scholarships and grants to have the least amount of debt. Regardless of which route you take to make it a habit to grow every day.

        It won’t be easy, but this will work to your advantage. Most people won’t spend most of their free time investing in themselves. This will allow you to grow faster than most, and stand out from your competition.

        4. Document the value you bring

        Resumes are a common way companies filter employees through the hiring process. Here’s the big secret: It’s not the only way you can showcase your skills.

        To request for a higher salary than most, you have to do what most are unwilling to do. Since you’re already investing in yourself, make it a habit to showcase your skills online.

        A great way to do this is to create your own website. Pick your first and last name as your domain name. If this domain is already taken, get creative and choose one that makes sense.

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        Here are some ideas:

        • joesmith.com
        • joeasmith.com
        • joesmithprojects.com

        Nowadays, building a website is easy. Once you have your website setup, begin producing content. For example, if you a developer you can post the applications you’re building.

        During your interviews, you’ll have an online reference to showcase your accomplishments. You can use your accomplishments to justify your salary requirements. Since most people don’t do this, you’ll have a higher chance of employers accepting your offer

        5. Hide your salary requirements

        Avoid giving you salary requirements early in the interview process.

        But if you get asked early, deflect this question in a non-defensive manner. Explain to the employer that you’d like to understand your role better first. They’ll most likely agree with you; but if they don’t, give them a range.

        The truth is great employers are more concerned about your skills and the value you bring to the company. They understand that a great employee is an investment, able to earn them more than their salary.

        Remember that a job interview isn’t only for the employer, it’s also for you. If the employer is more interested in your salary requirements, this may not be a good sign. Use this question to gauge if the company you’re interviewing is worth working for.

        6. Do just enough research

        Research average salary compensation in your industry, then wing it.

        Use tools like Glassdoor to research the average salary compensation for your industry. Then leverage LinkedIn’s company data that’s provided with its Pro membership. You can view a company’s employee growth and the total number of job openings.

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        Use this information to make informed decisions when deciding on your salary requirements. But don’t limit yourself to the average salary range. Companies will usually pay you more for the value you have.

        Big companies will often pay more than smaller ones.[3] Whatever your desired salary amount is, always ask for a higher amount. Employers will often reject your initial offer. In fact, offer a salary range that’ll give you and your employer enough room to negotiate.

        7. Get compensated by your value

        Asking for the salary you deserve is an art. On one end, you have to constantly invest in yourself to offer massive value. But this isn’t enough. You also have to become a great negotiator.

        Imagine requesting a high salary and because you bring a lot of value, employers are willing to pay you this. Wouldn’t this be amazing?

        Most settle for average because they’re not confident with what they have to offer. Most don’t invest in themselves because they’re not dedicated enough. But not you.

        You know you deserve to get paid well, and you’re willing to put in the work. Yet, you won’t sacrifice your most important values over a higher salary.

        The bottom line

        You’ve got what it takes to succeed in your career. Invest in yourself, learn how to negotiate, and do research. The next time you’re asked about your salary requirements, you won’t fumble.

        You’ll showcase your skills with confidence and get the salary you deserve. What’s holding you back now?

        Featured photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator via unsplash.com

        Reference

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