Don’t let haphazard shopping ruin your finances this school year. Make a plan or you could be like the millions of parents who spent approximately $564 per child last year on back-to-school shopping sprees (mostly on clothes). Of course your local retail stores love when you spend your money and they persuade you to open up your wallet by putting out all their new fall fashions. This influx of new fads works its charms on kids and parents alike, compelling them to buy, buy, buy – because, after all, no one wants to be out of style. Wrong. You can be fashionable and still save money by following these tips.
Plan Your Trip: It’s consequential that you have a plan in mind before you step out of the door to shop. Make an inventory of the clothes your children already have and can still use. After you list those items create a budget for the new clothes and do not deviate from it. Be up front with your kids; let them know that you are not going to spend money on all the latest fashion trends because next year they will be out of fashion too. Plan on purchasing the basics like khakis, jeans and shirts/blouses that can easily coordinate with each other – you are not buying single outfits such as a shirt, pants and shoes that don’t match with other clothing. Prepare to make your choices versatile.
Know the Sales Days: Scour the local paper, call the stores you plan on shopping at and find out when they are having their largest sales and, if possible, visit those stores at the beginning of the sale — before all the clothes are picked over. Find out if your state is offering a sales tax holiday and if so, shop then. Also, visit outlet malls for even greater savings.
Use Shopping Day Sense: After you’ve done all the hard work don’t crumble when you start to shop. Be disciplined; bring your list and know your budget. Don’t be distracted by ancillary sales. Keep your kids involved so they feel like they have some say in the clothes that they are going to wear. Be sure to maintain a cool demeanor and be firm; this may be a family shopping excursion but you are in charge.
Understand the Aftermath: It’s very important that you’re also prepared for the aftermath, or the consequences of your back-to-school shopping. If you have to use a credit card than make certain that you will be able to pay it off quickly, so as not to incur interest fees. Remember to think a few months ahead when other bills start to arrive. Will you have enough money to cover all of your debt?
If you plan right and use financial sense then you will save dollars and cents in the end. And one other thing, if your kids feel a bit dissatisfied with their clothes then offer them an opportunity to earn some money for a few items. Make them work for it. It will prepare them for the day that they are in charge of back-to-school shopping.
Get more ideas on back to school shopping on a budget here.