By Rubina Ahmed-Haq
Can you believe it’s almost time for students to get back to class? Whether your child is starting kindergarten or heading off to university, one thing all parents have in common this time of year, is back to school shopping. With young people’s demands to have the trendiest jeans and carry the coolest new gadgets this can be an expensive event for any mom and dad.
Back to school is the second busiest season for retailers after Christmas. Shop owners go to great lengths to get young people to spend money in their stores. You’ve probably already started seeing fancy window displays and flashy incentives promising this year’s must have items.
Here are some tips to make sure your kids get what they want without breaking the bank.
Do a clothing inventory
Before you head out shopping take some time to go through your child’s wardrobe and supplies. See what fits, what can still be worn and what needs to be replaced. Make a list and stick to it. Don’t buy another backpack if last year’s one is still in good shape. Be creative, maybe a trendy new shirt will bring last years jeans up to date and look good throughout the school year.
Shop at outlet malls
These quintessential suburban retailers offer trendy merchandise for much less than the name brand stores. See what items you can find on your list there, especially supplies where name brands don’t matter to your child, like socks and scarves and plain t-shirts. They’re much less at these suburbia malls
Save all your receipts
If any item you purchased goes on sale later you can most likely get your bill adjusted. To be safe ask the cashier what the policy is on price adjustments. The big stores often allow up to 30 days for a customer to take advantage of the sale price even if the item has been worn or used. But it’s the consumer’s responsibility to hang to the receipt and keep their eyes on the sales.
Have a clothing swap party
Get together with the other parents in you neighborhood to swap clothes, shoes and school items. With growing kids clothing is often barely used and just sitting in your kids closet. Make it fun with food and drink, and invite the kids to come so they can choose what they like.
Buy the important stuff first
Whatever you budget is, you need to be realistic about the absolute necessities. School supplies, books and uniforms take priority. With the money left over your kids can buy something fun and trendy, but that can’t be the focus.
As soon as kids are back in school, stores start to focus on the Christmas season. This means they need to clear out school items in stock. September in many places is still as warm as August and the need for sweaters and jacket does not come until October. If you can, put off these purchases and save a bundle.
Use student discounts
Many stores offer students a further discount on items. This may mean purchasing a loyalty card ahead time, but sometimes in can be worth it. These cards can save you a lot of money especially on expensive electronics like computers and smart phones.
Every step of the way make sure you child knows what you are buying and how much it costs. It gives kids perspective on how expensive back to school shopping can be. It also helps them learn important life skills around budgeting and shopping that they can use later in life.
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