Earn Top Marks on Your Back-to-School Shopping Strategy

As with studying for a big exam, whether you earn an “A” or an “F” depends on how disciplined you are.

Don Milne Aug 1, 2018

By some measurements, back-to-school is the busiest shopping season after Christmas. Your kids are not the only thing that will be leaving your home this fall – so will a big pile of your money.

But with care, you can keep more of your money and still get the kids off to school in clothing that doesn’t look like it shrunk since last year.

How high would you score if graded on your back-to-school shopping strategy? As with studying for a big exam, whether you earn an “A” or an “F” grade really depends on how disciplined you are.

Focus on quality over price – Give yourself an A.

Paying a low price for clothing often means you are getting poorer quality. However, paying full price for high quality clothing can leave you short on funds needed for other purchases. One possible solution is to shop for high quality clothes at thrift stores, consignment stores, or yard sales. Gently used high-end clothing should still have a long life and can be bought for much less than what you get with that new sticker tag.

Focus on what’s popular – Give yourself an F.

You can easily spend $100 or more on a popular label of shoes or jeans. Or you can find a different brand that doesn’t spend millions on advertising. If your kids get into the habit of buying what is popular and pricey, they will have less money to spend on other things they want.

Create a shopping list and budget – Give yourself an A.

If you make a list of what you want to buy and what you are willing to spend for each item, you will be able to prioritize those must-have items, and perhaps leave off items of lesser need so you don’t spend more than you can afford.

Buy everything at one store – Give yourself an F.

It can be a big convenience to do all your back-to-school shopping at one store. Get in. Get out. Get home. You’re done. However, you will likely pay extra for this convenience. Stores lead their ads with some store-buster deals to get you in the door, hoping you will spend extra on other items they sell at not-so-great prices. Not being patient and getting the best deals, by shopping at multiple stores, will cost you.

Procrastinate some of your purchases – Give yourself an A.

A few weeks after school starts, stores will be discounting what is left over to make room for their next sales promotion. If you hold back some of your back-to-school funds, you should be able to buy some items for half price or less.

Fall for the discount trick – Give yourself an F.

A common retailer practice is to mark up the price of an item and then discount it. You need to make your purchase decision based on what the value of the item is to you, and don’t be fooled that the discount is a steal of a deal.

Involve your kids in the shopping decisions – Give yourself an A.

Let your child know you have x number of dollars to spend and get their participation in shopping. They will notice that they can get a lot of stuff in place of those expensive designer jeans.

Use a payday loan to fund your shopping spree – Give yourself an F.

Getting money from a payday store is easy, but it also super expensive. The interest you pay can be 500% or more! Any savings you get from buying back-to-school stuff at a great price will be wiped out by the cost of the payday loan.

Hopefully you will get straight A’s with your back-to-school shopping.

Speaking of A’s, did you know that Zions Bank’s Pays for A’s program rewards kids for good grades? Students attending middle school through high school in Utah or Idaho can bring their report cards into any Zions Bank branch and get paid up to $1 per A.

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