NEW YORK (MainStreet) The Labor Day holiday weekend may be a last hurrah of summer for many, but for a lot of families who are still frantically trying to get their kids ready for back-to-school or looking for items on the lists teachers have already handed out, the weekend could be lost to shopping.
It doesn't have to hurt you in the pocket book, though. We've put together some ideas for you to save.
- 1. User Reviews: These aren't always helpful, but many times they are. You might want to avoid the cheaper brandsif people who have used the product already say it isn't worth it. If the site you're on doesn't have any user ratings/reviews for the product you're looking for, but the same product is reviewed on other sites, PriceBlink.com will let you know.
- 2. Cash Back Bonus: Look for sites and stores that offer a cash back bonus on purchases, as well as using credit cards that offer the same. FatWallet does huge cash back sales this time of year with dozens of top BTS stores that will increase their cash back this month, some double or more. This can make a huge difference when parents are making a fairly large purchase at a store of more than $100.
- 3. Utilize Teacher and Student Discounts: Some readers may not be totally aware of "student" and "teacher" discounts from computer/software brands and some office supply stores of 10% to 20% off with a school ID. FatWallet also features guides for these, including ways to stack even more savings with this special discount.
- 4. Buy Quality: Those backpacks with the unicorns might be cute, but many parents say they will not last long. "I buy a better brand such as Jansport and my children keep their back packs through several school years," says Gina Holmes with Wings of Glass. "Incidentally, this also works for those expensive binders that zip. Pay more up front, and it will last through several school years, particularly as they enter middle and high school."
- 5. Use Layaway: Your kids may not need to wear their winter clothes right now, but if you want to go ahead and pick them out, you can always put them in layaway. "Typically, this allows you to pay a percent down and then spread out your purchases over time to pay them off without a finance charge," says Kimberly Foss, CFP, the founder and president of Empyrion Wealth Management in Roseville, Calif.
- 6. Alterations: If your child didn't wear something a lot last year, or if they have private school uniforms and didn't grow much, consider having them altered at a tailor to save money, says Foss.
- 7. Wait: Waiting until after the back-to-school season is over, but before the holiday season starts will find you some pretty good deals, according to Stephanie Ward, founder of Gifts4moms.org.
- 8. Gift Cards: Back-to-school shopping may not be a gift, but that doesn't mean you can't take advantage of some of the gift card savings on sites such as GiftCardRescue.com. You can purchase gift cards on the site for as much as 20% off of the face value.
- 9. Footing Around the Price: Youth and children's shoes are cheaper than the identical shoes in the adult shoe department. "Check to see if your child can wear the very largest in youth sizes - many times they are the same size and even larger that the shoes you find in the adult department," says Zan Jones, owner of SpeakerJaZ.
- 10. Seeing the Real Discount: Only 30% of contact lens wearers and less than 10% of eyeglass wearers buy their products online. There is a huge opportunity to save on these products online. When buying optical products online, the consumer should be aware that the need to ask their prescribing eye doctor for a copy of the prescription. They'll also need to make sure the PD is included for eyeglasses prescriptions as a lot of doctor offices are trying to get around online shopping by not including important pieces of the script that are needed to purchase online, says Robert Drumm, marketing manager for aclens.com.
--Written by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell for MainStreet