Saving on Back to School shoppingPublished 9:15pm Thursday, July 26, 2012
According to National Parent Teacher Association, parents will spend an average $548.72 per child for back to school merchandise that does not include school fees or tuition. Believe it or not, that number is down about 7 percent from last year. Obviously, parents are choosing to be more economic minded and are looking for lower cost options.
The way our family does this is by starting with a list for each person that includes not only what they need, but also what they want. The list must also include their school fees such as parking tag, lab fees, class fees, etc. Sometimes these are just estimates, but we try to estimate a little high because usually there are expenses we do not know about until school starts.
We try to focus on what really needs to be replaced and there are some areas that we have discovered is not worth skimping on. For example, we found it is much more cost effect to buy a good well constructed backpack, than it is to buy an inexpensive one and have to replace it several times during the school year.
We also take advantage of the tax free weekend. This year Alabama’s will be August 3 – 5. I suggest that you check out Alabama’s web site to find exactly what is tax-free and what the limits are. For example, computers are tax free, but only up to $750. However, Tennessee’s is the same weekend, but they allow computers to go up to $1,500.
Another way to save is through coupons, there are multitudes of couponing sites. PTA.org suggests these sites: coupons.com, couponcabin.com, couponMom.com, retailmenot.com, Smartsource.com. I have used most of these and have been very pleased. The PTA web site also suggests looking to new shopping venues such as consignment sales, garage sales, thrift stores, and to reduce costs.
This is also a great time to stock up on pens, paper, extra binders, folders and other school supplies. I try to combine coupons, tax free weekend and other sales I can find. However, I have also found that sometimes it’s easy to purchase things that are “neat,” not necessarily “needed” especially if you take the kids shopping!!
I hope this helps you stay in your budget this year!