10 Tips for Stress-Free Back-to-School Shopping

  • 10 Tips for Stress-Free Back-to-School Shopping

    As the summer wraps, the epic back to school shopping season is heating up. Stores have begun their school shopping campaigns as early as July and some are even reminding us that “summer is almost over” (and it’s only early August!). According to the National Retail Federation, back-to-school spending is expected to reach $68.8 billion, compared to last year’s total of $55.12 billion. The back-to-school season is the largest shopping time of the year, after the holiday shopping season. Shopping is usually a stressful and frenetic experience. MainStreet has asked experts to help ease the pain of back-to-school shopping by providing tips to stay organized and stress-free at the stores. Photo Credit: queerkatkitten
    What Do You Need?
  • What Do You Need?

    Scour your closets and desk drawers to find out what supplies you already have and which items can be recycled from last year.  Chances are you can use the book bag from last year and you probably don’t need new bedding for the dorm room. The same strategy applies to clothing. Do you really need new sneakers? Or are you just purchasing them because it’s a “new” school year?  Don’t let the buzz behind the back to school season to prompt you to spend recklessly. Also, make a list of exactly what items you need.  Then start to research online and look through the store circulars to find the best prices. Photo Credit: Jamison_Judd
    Don’t Follow the Lists Schools Provide
  • Don’t Follow the Lists Schools Provide

    The supply lists schools provide can be excessive.  For example, some lists will request parents purchase “markers, crayons and colored pencils.” Can’t you simply purchase one of those – do you need all three?  Use your judgment - anything that seems outlandish or unnecessary from the school’s list, don’t buy it.  And if your school suggests certain name brand items that cost more, reconsider and try going the generic route, which is cheaper! Stick to the basics and only purchase the necessities. Photo Credit: the Italian voice
    What’s So Stressful?
  • What’s So Stressful?

    Think about what specifically makes back-to-school shopping stressful.  Is it the money you have to spend or the crowds at the store? “Once you have identified exactly what is creating the stress, it is easier to find the right strategies minimize the stress. If it is the crowds or the parking, find a time to visit the stores during off-peak hours or try shopping online,” suggests stress and wellness expert Beverly Beuermann-King. Remind yourself that back to school shopping only lasts for a few weeks – and after the first week of September, the television commercials and advertisements will disappear – at least for short while – until the holiday shopping season comes about. Photo Credit: Alex92287
    Use Your Web Browser
  • Use Your Web Browser

    Do you use Mozilla Firefox?  If so, there are plenty of “add-ons” to help you shop.  Some add-ons include calendars, price comparison tools, and grocery list makers.  Here are a few below, courtesy of Mozilla Firefox: Price Blink: Automatically finds lower prices and money-saving coupons from thousands of retailers. Reminder Fox: ReminderFox displays and manages lists of reminders and ToDo's. InvisibleHand: InvisibleHand shows a discreet notification when a better price is available on a product you're shopping for. Photo Credit: Yaniv Golan
    You Don’t Have to Be Early
  • You Don’t Have to Be Early

    There’s no need to rush to the stores in August. Yes, you will need a few necessities for back to school, like supplies, books and maybe some clothes.  But the real sales come after “back to school,” when the buzz is over. Andrew Schrage of personal finance blog MoneyCrashers suggests shopping as late in the season as possible, whether it's for back-to-school clothing or supplies. “The big rush is in August and there will be sales. However, there will be deep discounts in October if you can wait,” he says. But if you see something you know you will need and the item happens to be on sale, don’t hesitate to purchase it now. Photo Credit: The Consumerist
    Comparison Shopping … in the Store
  • Comparison Shopping … in the Store

    When shopping in the store, you can never know for sure if you are getting the best deal possible.  By using the RedLaser iPhone and Android app, you can scan barcode of the item in the store and the app will compare prices among different retailers. Armed with this knowledge, you can then decide whether it’s worth it to stay in that store and purchase the item, or head down the street to another store or back home to shop online for a cheaper price. Photo Credit: Red Laser
    Shop Slowly
  • Shop Slowly

    There’s no need to get all of your shopping done at once.  Adding more pressure and deadlines will cause you to panic.  Therefore, plan your shopping accordingly.  Maybe on Saturday, you’ll shop for clothes and on Sunday, you’ll shop for school supplies.  Approach your shopping one-day at a time, rather than thinking of all the moving parts associated with back to school shopping – it’ll make life a lot less stressful. Photo Credit: bizmac
    Cash or Credit
  • Cash or Credit

    While it’s typically recommended to use cash only to prevent you from going overboard with spending, there are some benefits to using credit cards for back-to-school shopping.  First, if you are shopping at an unknown retailer or online, you can dispute the charges on a credit card should a problem arise. As with any credit card purchase, you must have the cash to back up your purchase – this way, you can pay off the balance in full and never have to worry about late fees, interest rates or damage to your credit score. Photo Credit: Images_of_Money
    Drive Less
  • Drive Less

    Shop in large department stores where you can get your school supplies shopping done, clothing shopping and dorm room shopping completed all in one store. It will save you time by driving to fewer locations, which will save you money on gas. While you’re at it, download the GasBuddy iPhone app, to search for the cheapest gas stations in your area. Photo Credit: ReneS
    Avoid Peer Pressure
  • Avoid Peer Pressure

    Just because other students are purchasing fancy clothes or name branded items, doesn’t mean you need to follow that.  There’s no need to impress people through status symbols. Stay true to your values and budget – not what the latest trend is – typically popularity and trends lead to huge expenses and debt. You are not defined by what you wear or what you purchase. Scott Gamm is the founder of the personal finance website HelpSaveMyDollars.com. He has appeared on NBC’s TODAY, MSNBC, Fox Business Network, Fox News, ABC News and CBS. Follow Scott on Facebook and Twitter. Photo Credit: rh1n0
    Tweet alongside us
  • Tweet alongside us

    Wait! If you haven't already, now is a great time to follow us on Twitter. You'll get all of our most important stories, right as they publish. Follow us: twitter.com/mainstr Photo Credit: clevercupcakes
Show Comments