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Back to School Shopping: How to Save on it

In September of each year, a nationwide phenomenon sweeps the retail store landscape in a manner similar to Black Friday or Christmas. Unlike those two though, this is not a single day of frenzied shopping. It is spread out over a few weeks starting early to mid-August. The phenomenon’s name is the Back to School season.

Back to School Shopping: How to Save on it

As children and teenagers of all ages head back to school after their summer holidays, parents are in a rush to provide them with important items such as new bags, stationery, lunchboxes, laptops and/or other things that would be applicable for a schooling environment. A study conducted in the USA found that the average household spends US$800 in the back-to-school season. Over 14 years of schooling and 3-5 years of university, this can add up to a whopping tens of thousands of dollars spent simply on preparing the student to go back to school. So is there a way to save on this amount? The answer is most certainly yes. Over the rest of this article, we will outline a way of these methods.

1)Reuse

Items like erasers, glue sticks and sharpeners are what the consumer packaged goods industry like to call non-perishable. As the name implies, these have no expiry or "sell-by" date. Therefore, if they are still functional and not damaged beyond regular wear and tear, the quickest way to save money is by not spending it at all. Reuse these for the new school year, and as a bonus, you can also teach your children good habits about reducing waste.

2) Second-hand

Particularly at the university level, books are amongst the most expensive items that parents and children have to buy. These books are often used for a semester before they lay there catching dust for years on end. There is a solution though: acquire these books second-hand from people in the year above. In all probability, there are always online groups on social media such as Facebook where people are looking to get rid of their old books at heavily discounted prices. These people are motivated to sell and if you are motivated to buy, that's a steal of a deal just waiting to happen!

3)Dollar-store

Back to school shopping does not always need to be an expensive affair. The most common items such as stationery can often be found for cheap at dollar stores that are found in almost every neighbourhood. For basic items such as pencils and erasers, you can often get volume discounts from these stores as well that can help you save in future years as well by not having to buy the same things over again.

4)Online Coupons

The advent of the Internet has made shopping truly easier. But besides that, it has also opened up new opportunities to avail coupons and discounts. On specific days of the year, retailers often have promotional sales and a lot of stores have specific Back to School programs where items are placed at discounted levels on the shelves. By simply following these stores on social media, you can be aware of these sales and use them to your advantage to save yourself a few dollars this season.

5)Price Comparison Tools

The other advantage of the Internet is how easy it is now to compare and benchmark prices across stores. In today's day and age, you do not even have to hop across each website to find out what products are retailing at. Websites like Camelcamelcamel.com track the price range of products sold on Amazon to ensure that you are getting the best price for the product you are buying. You can even subscribe to price drop alerts, so if you have something that is not particularly time-sensitive, you can wait it out for a few weeks in order to save some money.

6)The Big Picture

In the frenzied atmosphere of going back to school or sending your kids back to school, it is easy to lose sight of the big picture in the moment. However, remember to apply your energies to the big-ticket items (laptop, bags etc.). While it is always good to have a cost-saving mindset, a couple dollars saved on buying pens and erasers from the dollar store is worth nothing if it is followed up by overpaying $200 on a laptop. Check stores for upcoming discounts and take the time to compare prices and features that are important to you personally before landing on one.

Back to School is an exciting time, representing the continuation of our school systems. Each year, parents and children go through this to start the year off right. However, what can turn out to be an expensive affair doesn't need to be the case as long as you follow some or all of the tips listed above!

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