It's that time of the year again.
The middle of August—better known to parents as back to school shopping season. Back to school shopping is one of the busiest shopping seasons of the year—and even though there is still plenty of uncertainty surrounding the coming school year due to the coronavirus pandemic, one thing is sure—school must go on!
The National Retail Federation, which has been conducting back to school surveys since 2003, estimated that families with kids in grades K-12 will spend an average of nearly $800 this year in school supplies.
Back to school spending trends have been growing at a faster rate than inflation for many years now. As the number of underfunded schools across America continues to rise, parents are asked to supply more items themselves each school year.
If you're one of the many parents sitting at home with a long list (or maybe no list), confused about where to start and dreading the cost of back to school shopping, we've rounded up 15 tips to help you save more money this year on back to school supplies.
1. Check Your Home
Always shop your home first! You might be surprised at how many items on the school supply list you already have in your house. You might get lucky and find all the notebook paper you could ever need stashed away in a closet, long forgotten about until now! The point is—check your house for what you need before you even think about shopping.
2. Know When to Shop
The best time to shop is early...or late. Retailers start putting back to school displays out with incentive sales as early as late June. However, prices also decrease as schools open and stores try to sell off the remaining inventory. Typically, kids won't need everything on the first day. Check with the teacher and see when things are required. Buying those supplies the day after your child's school starts could save you a surprising amount.
3. The Power of a Dollar
Shop the dollar store first. The Dollar Tree has basic supplies such as paper, binders, posters, and index cards that are priced significantly lower and yet are just as good quality as other retailers. After the dollar stores, Target Dollar Spots and the online bullseye playground have great back to school deals.
4. Check Store's Loss Leaders
These are the store's spotlight sale items that are sold at such low prices, they result in a loss for the retailer. If a store's loss leader item is something you need—you aren't likely to find a better deal than that!
5. Swap Supplies
Join or start a Facebook group in your community for school supply swaps. Lots of groups offer the option to buy and sell the items, or even to make trades or donations.
6. Pre-Owned Goods
If you're shopping for electronics, consider buying refurbished or second-hand items. Amazon Renewed offers pre-owned, professionally inspected, and tested electronics at a notably lower price than brand new products. Even better, they offer a 90-day full refund policy. Apple, Best Buy, and Overstock also have similar second-hand sites with discounted items.
7. Only Buy One "Back to School" Outfit...to Start
Don't buy a new wardrobe before school starts. If there is nothing your child(ren) needs right away, try just buying them one brand new outfit, so they still get to experience the sensation of the "first day of school outfit." Fall clothes coincidentally hit retailers' shelves in August and generally remain priced high for a while. Hold off on buying fall and winter wardrobes until late September through the beginning of October to see steep price cuts.
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8. Check Sales for Uniforms
If school uniforms are a requirement, check The Gap, Old Navy, and Target for some great sales on new uniforms. When shopping for pre-owned uniforms, some schools offer uniform exchanges and can provide free donated uniforms.
aqui estoy the kid who would be king GIF by 20th Century Fox Giphy
9. Check Donations
If you're struggling to afford items, check with charitable organizations. The Salvation Army has the "stuff the bus" donation system, which gives out school supplies to children in their communities. United Way, Red Cross, The Boy's and Girl's Club, and the YMCA all offer similar donations as well.
10. Check Price Trends
Shop camel camel camel before purchasing on Amazon. Their website allows you to search Amazon product price trends and see if you are getting a deal or not.
11. Check Apps
If you want to make sure you're getting the best prices when shopping, download ShopSavvy and scan the item's barcode to see if there's a better price.
Start with the big-ticket items. If you simply don't have the time to shop around for the best price on every little thing on the list, prioritize researching the most expensive items on the list to get a savings boost.
13. Reduced Sales Tax
Check to see if your state offers a sales tax holiday.
14. Contact the School
Contact your school if you can't afford something. Many schools offer electronics, internet service payment assistance, or free supplies to children in need.
15. Leave the Kids at Home
Leave the kids at home when shopping. Trust me on this one—you can save so much this way! And if your kid is really insistent on having an expensive name-brand backpack this year, there's nothing wrong with making them chip in for the cost.
We use social media to keep up with the latest in the worlds of pop culture, politics, fashion, and music, so why not the world of finance? Whether you want to keep up with financial trends or get some quick money advice, we've gathered a list of five of the best personal finance influencers you need to follow.
1. J Money, Budgets Are Sexy
Good idea to think about ;) . https://t.co/QNq0fMpsic— J. Money (@J. Money)1579528910.0
J. Money is a Mohawk rockin' husband and father who has been in the blogging business since 2008. His casual and easy to comprehend writing style makes learning about the financial world easy for anyone. J has received 12 industry awards and recently posted about his achievement of reaching a net worth over $1 million. If nothing else, you should at least follow him for his "dad worthy" money jokes!
2. Michele Schroeder-Gardner, Making Sense of Cents
Is Thrift Store Reselling Good Or Evil? https://t.co/QJTxFpraTI— Michelle Schroeder-Gardner (@Michelle Schroeder-Gardner)1581013505.0
Michele Schroeder-Gardner has been writing for her blog, Making Sense of Cents, since 2011 and has over 20 awards to show for it. She started her blog sharing how she paid off $38,000 in student loan debt in only 7 months. She now travels full-time. She's currently living on a sailboat with her husband. She shares best practices for paying off student loan debt along with some great tips for making money online. Plus, following her travel journeys is worth the follow alone!
3. Erin Lowry, Broke Millennial
Yes, it's true. I did write a guide to help my friends travel hack their way to my bachelorette party. Read the st… https://t.co/4aTSuMtTi6— Broke Millennial ® (@Broke Millennial ®)1579206589.0
When I discovered Erin on Twitter, the first thing I noticed was her coined hashtag, #GYFLT (get your financial life together), which I naturally thought meant get your f***ing life together. The author of two books in the financial industry, Erin graduated from college debt-free and has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, CNBC, and Fox and Friends. Upfront and hilarious, she breaks down the often confusing and scary finance world for Millennials.
4. Tina Hay, Napkin Finance
What is #Bitcoin ? @napkinfinance https://t.co/49O603mvBl— Barginex (@Barginex)1579852825.0
What better way to guide you through the financial world than through pictures drawn on napkins? Tina is the founder and CEO of Napkin Finance, a site that makes money easy to understand through visualizations drawn on yes, you heard right, napkins! As their website so bluntly puts it, Napkin Finance is "everything you need to know about money in 30 seconds or less." Napkin Finance has collaborated with companies like JP Morgan, UBS, Michele Obama's Better Make Room Initiative, and the United States Olympic Committee. These bite-sized lessons make learning about money fun and quick.
5. Lily, The Frugal Gene
How To Stay Frugal When You Have Spendy Friends #frugalliving #savemoney #moneyhacks https://t.co/RuoO2HvMfo https://t.co/rB8CLAex4K— Lily | The Frugal Gene ✌ (@Lily | The Frugal Gene ✌)1581075859.0
Lily and her husband write for their blog, The Frugal Gene. She is a first-generation immigrant from China who was raised in San Francisco. Lily shares how her journey out of a life of poverty was the key motivator in attaining FIRE (financially independent, retiring early). Lily was able to pay off all of her student loan debt with only a part-time job in eight months! She shares interesting and unique tips on saving money, and she has been featured on The Cut, Rockstar Finance, Tiller Money, and Money.
You're standing in line at Starbucks and purposefully not thinking about how many times you've paid for overpriced coffee this week. Next, you're wandering the aisles of the grocery store trying to remember what you came here to buy, resulting in one armful of useless condiments and two more armfuls of snacks. Finally, you're checking out and flipping through your credit cards and debit cards, randomly deciding which one to use to pay, before finally selecting one.
If that remotely sounds like you, then you're doing everything wrong. Luckily, with very simple, basic revisions of your daily habits and routines, you can stop wasting money and see your savings grow. Mind you, you should also be making monthly (or even weekly, for overachievers) budgets to track your spending, but if you're not quite ready for that... Then get your act together and stop making money-wasting mistakes!
1. Invest in a coffee maker
Yes, it seems like it will take so much more time in the morning to brew your own coffee. To put it kindly, you're wrong. Depending on which coffee maker you invest in, you can habituate yourself to set the timer to brew in the morning as part of your bedtime ritual, or you can take the few minutes in the morning to relax and think about your day. No matter what you decide, it's better than spending $5 on coffee every other week day.
2. Make grocery lists
A quick trip to the grocery store or convenience store every time you run out of something means that those spur of the moment purchases add up over time. Keep a running list on your phone of household items or groceries that you're running out of and plan one major trip during the week to stock up on everything. Having a shopping list not only keeps you accountable while you're shopping so you don't buy items on a whim, but it also serves as a rudimentary budget (i.e. stop buying energy drinks and Cheetos, you're a grown adult!).
3. Schedule transfers into your savings account
First, if you don't have a savings account, open one! It's incredibly simple to use your bank's mobile app to schedule regular transfers from your checking account into your savings. Setting up automatic transfers allows you to steadily save a portion of your paycheck without having to remember or stress about doing it. It's a small easy setting that can save up tremendously over time. (Ideally, open a savings account that has compounded daily interest, because Cartman's mom says so).
4. Find dupes for your favorite item(s)
This doesn't have to apply across the board; substituting just one of your pricey must-have items can save a significant amount of money over time. Whether you're a sucker for expensive cheeses or your craving for prosciutto is too big for you to curb, start with making one sacrifice with a cheaper substitution. As the savings grow, so does your incentive to make more cuts. Ultimately, it will make occasional indulgences even better.
5. Treat Yourself–Rarely
An easy trick to develop good spending habits is to allow yourself that $5 cup of coffee or that expensive soft cheese as a rare reward for keeping your spending low–but only if you've stuck to your goals. You obviously don't want to blow everything you've saved on this one extravagance, but keeping your goals and rewards small and realistic creates easy and positive reinforcement to be smarter with your money.
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The transition between college and the real world can be a bit of a culture shock.
Going from classes, studying, and an all-inclusive dorm situation to working full-time and needing to uphold your apartment, body, and personal life can be a major challenge on your mental well-being and your wallet. Luckily, there are plenty of shortcuts to making your life a little easier here and there. If you're a young man in your 20s, here are some of the best saving tips to get you through your next work week.
1. Buy a good electric razor
While it might seem counterintuitive to spend money to save money, sometimes bulkier upfront payments should be viewed as long-term investments. This is especially true for essential household and lifestyle products, where the more expensive, high-quality versions usually last a long time and ultimately save you money compared to their cheaper, easily breakable brethren. When it comes to shaving (a necessity for almost any man), a great electric razor will end up costing hundreds less than disposables in the long-run.
2. Start cooking at home
Eating out is definitely easier for anyone on-the-go, but eating in is a whole lot cheaper. And if you're looking to save some money, buying groceries and cooking for yourself is one of the most substantial ways you can do so. If cooking isn't a skill you've honed, start simple. Buy a basic cookware set on Amazon and start experimenting with eggs and pasta sauces. Grill up some chicken. You'll be surprised how far you can stretch a few dollars when you're making your own food, and it's not a bad skill to have with roommates and significant others, too.
3. Buy in bulk
Most things are cheaper in bulk. Luckily, most essentials are also available in bulk quantities. Large sets of socks, underwear, and shirts may seem bland, but they're also very cost-effective. Similarly, many food items can be bought in bulk too, especially if you have access to a Costco or similar club membership. That being said, always be careful not to buy more quantity of any product than you actually need. It's only saving money if you end up using it.
4. Game online
You've probably never seen anyone recommend playing video games to save money before, huh? Well, it's true, entertainment can get very expensive. From various streaming subscriptions to consoles to newly released games, every purchase adds up. But nowadays, many of the most popular games are free-to-play, with major hits like Apex Legends costing you nothing outside of the Internet service you already pay for. Of course, optional cosmetics are always a cash-sink, but if you can avoid those, your entertainment expenses just got a whole lot cheaper.
5. Get a therapist
Seriously, life is tough sometimes, and society often puts unfair stigma around men's emotions. Consider therapy an investment in your lifelong well-being. Even if you can only afford it once a month, having someone to openly talk with about all the issues in your life, whatever they may be, provides an amazing outlet for stress. Never let unfair social pressures prevent you from taking care of your mental health.
Ultimately, it's a rough world out there for 20-somethings of any gender. Make sure to prioritize your well-being over financial decisions. It's okay to splurge every now and again. But if you can save a little bit every so often, it'll serve you well as you move into the next stages of your life.
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