avatar

Back-to-school spending Tips for saving money without skimping on essentials

Written by Contributor. Posted in College, Featured

Published on August 13, 2014 with No Comments

Back-to-school spending

Tips for saving money without skimping on essentials

Back-to-school spending can take its toll on the family budget, with parents paying considerable cash for clothes, backpacks and other must-haves.

The National Retail Foundation expects consumers to spend about $74.9 billion this year to send their children and college students back to school, up 12 percent since 2013.

“Back-to-school spending is second only to the holidays, and the outlay is higher and higher each year,” said Mike Sullivan, director of education for Take Charge America, a national nonprofit credit counseling and debt management agency. “Retailers push hard in the summer months, and school budget cuts have shifted the cost of supplies to families, but savvy parents can save money without skimping on necessities.”

Sullivan offers eight tips for cutting costs on back-to-school shopping:

Take stock:  Supply lists often call for scissors, rulers, pencils and other items people already have at home. Parents can save money by taking stock of what they have before buying new supplies.

Stick to the list: Teachers’ supply lists have become more extensive – and expensive – so parents are wise to stick to the list and avoid impulse purchases.

Comparison shop:  Dollar stores, big-box retailers and office supply stores offer deep discounts on many school essentials. Parents can save money by seeking out the best prices and stocking up on items children use throughout the year.

Clip coupons: Many websites publish coupons on back-to-school clothing and supplies. Parents also can find their children’s favorite brands on Facebook and Twitter for special coupons available only to followers.

Wait to buy: Just like holiday shopping, retailers often discount prices after the rush. Parents can purchase some items after Labor Day to reap savings.

Shop or swap second-hand: Clothing swaps are a popular choice to exchange gently used clothing. Additionally, second-hand retail shops, Craigslist and eBay are good options for finding trendy and brand-name gear at a fraction of the cost.

Shop tax-free:  Many states offer tax-free shopping days during back-to-school seasons. Find out if your state is participating, and buy your big-ticket items then.

Include kids in the process:  Many parents give their kids a budget for clothing and necessities. Kids who have to choose between blowing the budget on pricey items or stretching their dollars with sensible purchases will learn a powerful lesson about the value of money.

For more financial tips, visit www.takechargeamerica.org.

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Founded in 1987, Take Charge America, Inc. is a nonprofit agency offering financial education and counseling services. For more information, visit www.takechargeamerica.org or call 888-822-9193.

Breaking down dorm room necessities

As summer winds down, incoming freshman are getting ready for their first year of college.

In addition to picking a major and registering for classes, many are preparing to live on their own for the first time. It’s exciting – but can be an expensive too.

“In past years, students used to live on ramen noodles and dorm rooms were sparse at best, but that’s no longer the case,” said Mike Sullivan, director of education for Take Charge America, a national non-profit credit counseling and student loan counseling agency. “Today, retailers aggressively target freshman to advertise dorm-room ‘necessities,’ but students are wise to minimize spending, especially if they’re borrowing money for college.”

To help students keep costs in check, Sullivan outlines seven tips for determining what to bring to college, and what to leave behind.

Consult your housing office: Before buying a new toaster or candles, students should contact their housing office to fully understand rules and regulations. Many residence halls don’t allow toasters, hotplates, halogen bulbs, air conditioners, candles, waterbeds and extension cords.

Team-up with your roommate: Few dorms are large enough for multiple appliances. Students should wait and coordinate major purchases with their roommate.

Pack the basics: Most dorm rooms include a bed, desk, mirror and trash can, and students must bring other essentials including linens, toiletries, pantry basics, cleaning supplies and a first-aid kit. If an item isn’t used on a daily or weekly basis, consider leaving it back home.

Decorate – wisely:  Students want to make their dorm rooms their own, but this doesn’t require significant spending. Framed photos, posters and a houseplant add a homey touch to any space, but it’s wise to skip the fancier furnishings and redirect funds toward tuition and books.

Scour sales: Students can find low prices on linens and dishes at discount stores and yard sales. They can also reap savings with price-comparison apps or online auctions.

Stock your kitchen: Dorms don’t offer much of a kitchen, but a mini-refrigerator, pantry and microwave will go a long way in cutting dining out expenses.

Utilize campus amenities: Students who use campus fitness centers, library movie rentals, intramural sports, student clubs and on-campus entertainment will save money while also enriching their college experience.

For more financial tips, visit www.takechargeamerica.org.

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Founded in 1987, Take Charge America, Inc. is a nonprofit agency offering financial education and counseling services. For more information, visit www.takechargeamerica.org or call 888-822-9193.

 

Be Sociable, Share!

Share This Article

About Contributor

avatar

Browse Archived Articles by

No Comments

There are currently no comments on Back-to-school spending Tips for saving money without skimping on essentials. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.