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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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        Joseph Hindy

        A writer, editor, and YouTuber who likes to share about technology and lifestyle tips.

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        Last Updated on July 10, 2020

        The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

        The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

        Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

        Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

        Identifying All of Your Debts

        The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

        Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

        1. Own Your Debt

        Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

        Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

        2. Make a Debt Tracker

        It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

        Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

        3. Get Your Debt Number

        Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

        Prioritizing Your Debts

        All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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        1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

        Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

        There are three main types of bad debt:

        • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
        • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
        • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

        Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

        • Student Loan Debt
        • Mortgage Loan
        • Business Loans

        2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

        Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

        Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

        If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

        3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

        Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

        Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

        Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

        1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

        “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

        It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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        Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

        Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

        2. Hide Your Credit Cards

        If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

        Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

        3. Automate Everything

        Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

        4. Plan Ahead

        Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

        For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

        5. Live Cheaply

        The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

        • Live with roommates
        • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
        • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
        • Take public transit or bike to work

        Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

        The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

        If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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        1. Maintain a High Credit Score

        Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

        • Never miss a payment
        • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
        • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
        • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
        • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

        2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

        Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

        Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

        If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

        How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

        Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

        1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

        Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

        Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

        2. Earn More Money

        There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

        Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

        Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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        Talk to Your Boss

        Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

        Start a Side Hustle

        This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

        Build an Online Business

        There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

        3. Celebrate Your Wins

        As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

        While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

        4. Set New Financial Goals

        Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

        Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

        These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

        Conclusion

        Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

        Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

        More Tips on Getting out of Debt

        Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

        Reference

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