(This is a guest article by Timothy Ng*)
Heading out to do some back-to-school shopping can really be a drain on the pocketbook if it is not done with a strategic plan in place. The retail shops are counting on the young ones to beg and plead with their parents for the newest and greatest school supplies.
There will be a lot of advertising and setups placed in shops, and if you don't know exactly what you are shopping for, you may be tempted to purchase everything the store says you need.
Back to school with the young ones
Find out what your children really need to go back to school. You can contact the teacher before you head out shopping so that you can get a list of items. You can bring your children with you to go shopping as long as you let them know that you are going to be sticking to the list no matter what.
If you let your children make up the list with you they will be more actively involved in the decision-making and it will be easier once you hit the stores. Don't forget to check what items you already have at home. Your child will probably want all new items, but you can let them know before you go shopping that you do not intend to purchase anything you already have in stock.
It is nice to get your child a few pieces of clothing and a new pair of shoes for back-to-school, but don't go overboard. Once school starts there will be countless sales for clothes that weren't purchased during the back-to-school rush. Do your shopping then to save some money.
Watch the fliers and make a budget
Check out which stores have the better deals before you head out shopping. There may be coupons in fliers for back-to-school items that you need to purchase. You also have to set a budget so that no matter how tempted you are to overspend, it doesn't happen.
Back to school with the older ones
The cost of most textbooks is a nightmare about to happen for college students. The costs on these books can be outrageous so it is wise to look at ways of lowering the price. Here are some helpful tips you can use to keep the price down on textbooks.
- Look on the Internet : You can do some fast and effective cost comparison shopping on the Internet for your textbooks. You can look at classified ads and bookstores that sell used college books. It is the fastest way to find them used at a good price.
- Find out if you can use an older edition textbook : If you don't absolutely have to have the latest textbook edition your savings can range from 50% up to 70%. You can e-mail your professor and ask whether or not you need to have the newest edition of the book. Some professors will insist that you get the newest copy while others will tell you that it is not necessary and an older edition will do.
- Get a used copy from another student : Many students are anxious to get rid of their used textbooks to earn income that they can put towards their tuition for the next year. Try to hunt down former students of the class you are taking and see if they still have the book available for sale.
- Look at stores that sell used books : There may be a used store that sells textbooks in your area. You can find them in your phonebook or listed on the Internet. Give them a quick call to find out if they have your book in stock and how much it is.
Both younger and older students can save a lot of money when it comes to back-to-school shopping. Setting an example of good shopping habits for these students is an important part of their education as well and will stay with them for many years to come.
*About the author: Timothy Ng lives, breathes, and sleeps personal finance. Check out his in-depth guide to 0 balance transfer 12 months credit cards where he answers everything you need to know to finding the best balance transfer credit card.
*Image Credit: istock photo