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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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        Published on May 7, 2019

        How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

        How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

        When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

        Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

        Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

        You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

        Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

        1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

        Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

        But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

        • Will you spend more time with your family?
        • What does retirement mean to you?
        • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

        Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

        Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

        2. Figure out When to Invest

        “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

        It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

        The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

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        A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

        Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

        3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

        Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

        Why?

        Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

        Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

        Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

        Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

        4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

        Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

        If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

        You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

        1. Vanguard
        2. TD Ameritrade
        3. Charles Schwab

        5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

        Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

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        Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

        That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

        Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

        A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

        6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

        The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

        Robo Advisors

        Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

        Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

        Bonds

        Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

        Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

        Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

        1. Treasury bonds
        2. Government bonds
        3. Corporate bonds
        4. Foreign bonds
        5. Mortgage-backed bonds
        6. Municipal bonds

        Mutual Funds

        Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

        One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

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        Real Estate

        Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

        Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

        This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

        But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

        Savings Accounts

        Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

        7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

        Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

        So how can you master delayed gratification?

        By building your discipline.

        Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

        Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

        8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

        I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

        It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

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        More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

        But, how can you invest yourself?

        Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

        Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

        But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

        Retire Happy with Excess Money

        The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

        It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

        I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

        Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

        One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

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        Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

        Reference

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