Is the summer really almost over? Is it really time to start thinking about back to school savings ideas? Sigh. Well, here it goes: CardHub just sent me an email with some really good ideas, especially when it comes to taking advantage of tax free holidays! Check out their tips and use the savings to have fun these last days of summer.
1. Stick to a Budget: It’s difficult to avoid overspending if you don’t have a good idea of what you can afford. That’s especially important to note these days, as only 40% of people have a budget and keep close tabs on their spending, according to a survey from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. So, before you head to the store to make your back-to-school buys, create a list of what you need, how much you can afford to spend, and therefore what you can allocate to each item. And remember, sticking to a budget is tough, but sticking to a budget when you have a whining child next to you asking to buy seemingly everything in sight is even tougher. In other words, you may also want to consider leaving your kids at home for this trip.
2. Time Your Purchases with State Tax Holidays: A number of states waive their sales tax on certain types of expenses during August in order to make back-to-school shopping more affordable. These sales tax “holidays” begin as early as August 2, last only a few days, and can save you up to 7% on school-related purchases.
3. Comparison Shop: Every retailer will try to convince you that it has the lowest prices around, but that’s obviously not going to be the case. It therefore really pays to shop around for the best deals, at least when it comes to items that comprise a significant portion of your budget. You shouldn’t rule out shopping online over fear of shipping charges either, as more and more retailers are offering free shipping options and you may get the added benefit of shopping tax-free without being constrained to a few-day window.
4. Avoid Trends: Buying the “latest” goods – from the latest computer to the latest new clothing styles – is a great way to spend more than you need to. Saving is the name of the game at back-to-school time, so concentrate on things that were “hot” last year. It will be cheaper to start and is more likely to be on sale. All you need to do is convince your children that vintage is cool.
5. Make One Trip: Buying everything you need for back to school in a single trip will obviously make the process less stressful and time-consuming. In addition, if you are planning to take advantage of a one-time discount that many store cards offer, it will also ensure that you maximize your rewards-based savings.
6. Use the Right Credit Card: It should be clear by now just how much you can save – both on back-to-school shopping and on an ongoing basis – by simply using a well-targeted credit card or two. This is especially true now given that the best rewards card offers a $400 initial rewards bonus and the best 0% credit card won’t charge you interest for 15 months or a balance transfer fee should you decide to transfer debt from an existing card. So, whether you get a new credit card in order to save on back-to-school purchases directly or simply to replenish your coffers after the fact, it is definitely something that bears looking into.