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Shop smart for back-to-school savings

Published August 20. 2018 02:02PM

Back-to-school shopping is big business.

According to Credit Card Insider, 29 million households across the U.S. will spend around $27.6 billion this year outfitting their kids with shoes, clothes and supplies for the upcoming school year, with the average total spending by parents $510.

And while most of what’s purchased are necessities, there are still some ways to save.

Jacob Lunduski, a financial industry analyst at Credit Card Insider offers some tips to help east the burden on your wallet.

1. Plan

• reported after the 2017 back-to-school shopping season that 57 percent of parents said they have a back-to-school budget. Half of the surveyed parents said that school expenses are increasing.

• Make a list of all the supplies your children need for the upcoming school year. By creating a list, you’ll prevent heat of the moment impulse shopping, which adds up quickly.

• Research through the different stores to see what deals become available for the items you need, as many stores offer select deals during August. There are apps like Favado and that provide deals and comparisons of the products you’re looking for.

2. Contact loved ones, friends, and secondary market for supplies

• One of the best ways to save money on back-to-school items is to look away from the stores in order to get them. Reach out to your extended family members, neighbors, and friends to see if they have any extra materials or lightly used materials from their children’s past years.

• The secondary market has many options for you to shop for used school supply items. Some of these sites include: eBay, Amazon, and Craigslist are places where you can find school supplies. They’re a great place to look for some of the more expensive school items, such as high-performance calculators.

3. Choose how you pay carefully

• Before you shop, plan out how you will pay for the back-to-school supplies. If you do use a credit card, make sure you use it responsibly and always pay off your bill in full and on time by the due date. With a parent’s average cost being $510 dollars, it’s an easy path into accumulating debt.

• Avoid certain store credit cards unless you shop at that store frequently enough. Retail store cards can sometimes be very rewarding, but in many cases, you can get more value with a general-use rewards card.

• If you have credit established, there are credit card options like cash back credit cards and 0 percent introductory APR cards that save money as you shop. Take some time to research through different card options.

• Cash back credit cards are designed to give you a percentage of cash back on almost all purchases you make. Depending on the card, you can earn anywhere from 1 percent to 6 percent back on your purchases.

• 0 percent introductory APR cards are cards that provide a length of time with 0 percent interest. The length of time varies depending on the card, but the offer is usually anywhere between six and 18 months. As long as you pay the minimum due each month on these cards, they’re like using an interest-free loan.

Make sure to have the balance paid off by the time your introductory time runs out or else you’ll be hit with interest fees.

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