Shop smart and save this back-to-school season

July 14, 2017

Even though summer has just begun, pretty soon it’ll be time to focus on the school year ahead, and if your family is like most, you’re already thinking about purchasing school supplies for the upcoming year.

Back-to-school shopping is the second-largest consumer spending category after holiday shopping, according to statistics from the National Retail Federation and Research Now. An additional survey, conducted by Deloitte, found that 32 percent of families expect to spend more on school supplies this coming year, either because their children need more items, materials are increasing in price, or students need more expensive supplies.

Back-to-school expenses seem to climb every year and can be a strain on family budgets. In a 2016 survey conducted by the National Retail Federation, back-to-school spending has increased 55 percent over the past 10 years, with the average family spending $107.76 on school supplies. Combined with other expenses, such as clothing and accessories, electronics, and shoes, a family could end up spending an average of $674 on back-to-school shopping.

Despite rising costs, back-to-school shopping doesn’t have to be a budget-buster. A little pre-planning and early shopping can help you avoid extra spending. Nationally, 73 percent of back-to-school shoppers plan to shop a month to three weeks before the start of school.

Here are some ways you can shop smart during the back-to-school season:

• Timing Matters: Look for end-of-summer sales and tax-free holidays, especially on big ticket items where you’ll really feel the savings. In Ohio, the tax-free holiday starts on Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, at 12:00 a.m. and ends Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. To learn more about this tax-free holiday weekend, visit the Ohio Department of Taxation website.
• Plan Ahead: Before making new purchases, take an inventory of supplies you already have around the house. From there, make a list of items still needed. Two-thirds of consumers are likely to buy more than what is on their list, so be sure to stick to your shopping plan.
• Avoid Fancy Supplies: Instead of spending money on the brightest, shiniest, and glitteriest supplies with a licensed logo, which adds to the cost, make them “Do It Yourself” art projects for your kids to decorate.
• Use Technology to Bring Deals to Your Inbox: Let technology save you money by doing an online coupon search, monitor your favorite stores’ social media accounts to get advance notice of sales, and sign up for coupon links.
• Stock Up: If you see a good deal on supplies you know will be an ongoing need, stock up so you’re ready when something runs out, gets lost, or breaks.

To learn about credit unions in your community and how they can help you plan for the back-to-school season, visit www.aSmarterChoice.org.

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