One of my all-time favorite TV commercials is the Staples "It's the Most Wonderful Time" spot. It still makes me smile. And while it may be a wonderful time for parents, it can be not so wonderful on your budget. Here are a few tips to ease the pain this Back to School shopping season.
1. Like Santa, make a list. Many teachers will prepare a list and give it to students in advance, use it and stick to it. Don't let guilt make you buy more because your kids ask for it. And don't buy something because they "might" need it. Make sure they do. The same goes for clothes. Set a list of new clothes they need; it's not a shopping spree, it's a task to outfit them with clothes so they can focus on learning.
2. Stick to a budget. Make a budget and include the kids in the process. Then when you are shopping let them know they can have the $200 boots, but they'll have to stick with all of last years clothes because the budget you set together was $250.
3. Think December 26th. Just as everything goes on sale the day after Christmas, school supplies and clothes are marked down once school starts. Think about what can wait and shop later. For clothes, try buying one new outfit for the first day, and then get the rest after school starts. Supplies can wait too, you may have to hunt for some items, but when you're saving 50%, who cares.
4. Think Smart...phone. Bring your phone with you. You can compare deals on big ticket items while you are in the store. Clothes, electronics and other costly items can be found at a discount if you look around.
According the National Retail Federation, the average family spent just over $600 last year for BTS shopping. Follow these tips and you can save, and keep in mind, it is only 140 days until Christmas.