Cutting Costs On Back To School Expenses

Back to school shopping is one of the biggest shopping seasons of the year, and the expenses can take you by surprise and easily add up to cost a fortune. It's easy to get carried away with all the new products that come out every year, but that doesn't mean you have to spend a lot.  Whether you're a parent who's buying supplies or a college student out on your own, there are some great ways to save money on back to school shopping.

Planning ahead before you shop

A good first step is to gather your class supply lists and estimate the cost of the supplies and clothes. If any after school sports or academic teams require additional supplies or fees, don't forget to add those costs in as it will help you budget and prevent some potential hidden expenses later. When you make your lists, it might be helpful to separate the things you actually need from the things you want. Once you have taken care of the items you need and can determine the leftover budget, you can have fun with the items on your wants list.

Before you go out and buy new, look around your house for supplies. You might be surprised to find things like notebooks, paper, pens, highlighters, or even old backpacks lying around. If you don't have much luck finding supplies around the house, try planning a back-to-school swap. Invite your friends over and have them bring old supplies and clothing that they no longer want or need. Who says you need to buy all new supplies for school?

For the supplies you'll have to buy, save yourself from the coupon clipping and sign up to receive coupon emails from your favorite stores. All it takes is visiting the store website and signing up for an online account. In some cases, you may even be able to find exclusive deals on a retailer's social media site, so look up your favorite stores on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Some stores also have apps you can download to your phone that offer instant coupons. Also, don't forget to check out sites like Groupon and LivingSocial where you can sign up for deals through several different retailers.

If you’re a college student, you’re in luck. There are countless retailers that offer special discounts exclusively for college students. Do your research before you buy any supplies, and if you’re shopping in store, it never hurts to ask if they offer college discounts. All you typically need is your student ID to snag the deals. Here is one website that lists some retailers that offer discounts for college students: http://bit.ly/college-discounts.

If the thought of searching endlessly for coupons or the best deal on everything is overwhelming, try focusing on deals for your big ticket items first. Odds are, the smaller items such as pencils and notebooks already cost less and savings may be insignificant.  Finding coupons on things like computers, calculators, cell phones, and backpacks will save you a lot of money.

Shopping the bargain stores

Unsure where to start shopping? You might want to check out the dollar store first to see if they have any useful supplies. Many dollar stores sell products like paper, pens, pencils, binders, dry erase boards, and planners for only a buck.

For everything else on your list, going to the mall is an easy one-stop shop, but department stores like Target and Walmart are often a better choice. These bargain stores typically have cheaper prices than those at the mall. You can find everything from laptops to school supplies to clothing at Target and Walmart, plus they both have a price match guarantee. Visit http://bit.ly/target-price-match to shop with confidence at Target and http://bit.ly/walmart-price-match to see Walmart's ad match guarantee. If you prefer shopping online, amazon.com is a great website for low prices on most of the school supplies you can think of.

Discount stores such as TJ Maxx, Marshalls, or Ross are great places to get brand name clothing for cheaper than regular department stores. Extra bonus - these stores also offer household items such as bedding, bathroom supplies, and furniture for college students looking for dorm room items. Outlet stores can also save you a bundle on clothing, furniture, and many other back to school items. Visit http://www.outletlocator.com to find an outlet mall near you.

Back to school shopping doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg if you shop smart and think of creative ways to save money. Signature FCU can provide extra help along the way with low rate student Visa credit cards for your everyday purchases, an annual Signature Savings account to help you save all year long, and personal or student loan options to cover any additional educational expenses.  For more information on all our products and services, visit SignatureFCU.org, or call (800) 336.0284.