3 Ideas for Back to School Savings

Many families are gearing up for back to school. From pencils to sneakers and socks, stores are filled with shoppers on a mission to buy everything necessary to get the 2008 school year off to a good start. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, families with school-age children are expected to spend an average of $563.49 on back to school merchandise this year. Even if you don’t believe you spend that much, here are three money saving ideas to help you keep your tab down.

Take Advantage of Summer Clearance Deals

During the first few months of school, depending on which area of the country you live in, it will still be extremely hot. Summer markdowns on clothing and apparel typically occur in June and July. By the time August rolls around budget savvy families can snatch up t-shirts, shorts, and sandals for $10 or less per item. This is perfect for those living in Southeastern states such as South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, where children can wear these clothes through mid-October. By purchasing only sale items for your children to wear during the first few months, not only do you reduce the amount of money that you spend, but you also spread the costs over the first few months preventing shock to your household budget.

Don’t Forget Tax Free Shopping

From the end of July through mid-August many states have a tax free shopping week. This is the ideal time for shopping for back to school clothes, supplies and equipment. Among the participating states are Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington, D.C. While each state has its own rules, most of them seem to exempt clothing purchases of $100 or less from the sales tax. You can find out more information about the dates and other details by checking your local newspapers and news stations, and websites. In addition to clothing, some states also include school supplies, books, and computers and computer equipment in the sale.

Check out Discount Shopping Clubs

The last stop for your back to school needs is your local discount shopping warehouse, Sam’s Club, Costco, or BJs warehouse. Large families can save on school supplies by buying in bulk. Smaller families benefit as supplies purchased in bulk can last from three to five months or more. Crayola art supplies, post it notes, pens, pencils and highlighters are common in all of these stores. I’ve also seen book bags and lunch totes at reduced prices. In addition to the school supplies, these warehouses also carry clothing and other apparel at prices lower than local department stores. In fact you may be able to find good deals on a few articles of clothing to go into the fall and winter seasons.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money preparing for the new school year, especially not $500. Make the most of your household budget, by taking advantage of summer clearances, tax free shopping weeks, and discount shopping warehouses.

Michelle Sharrow

Michelle P. Sharrow, MBA author and editor of Family Finance, is based in Waldorf, Maryland, she holds a Masters Degree with a concentration in Finance. Michelle provides a monthly column on ways to help families maintain their finances and stick to a budget titled, Budgeting and Savings for Families.
Michelle Sharrow
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