10 things to remember when back-to-school shopping

Lukas Parra, 8, hands Kaitlyn Bradley, 12, a folder as they check off one more school supply. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN STATESMAN
Lukas Parra, 8, hands Kaitlyn Bradley, 12, a folder as they check off one more school supply. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN STATESMAN

Today we offer our back-to-school shopping guide as well as a list of things to not forget to do before school starts and the best way to improve your school.  More back-to-school tips can be found at Austin360.com/backtoschool.

Here are 10 more tips to consider when you’re out shopping:

  1. Go early. That means not the week before school starts. It also means early in the morning on a weekday when stores are fully stocked and not crowded.
  2. Shop other areas of the store. When the back-to-school aisle gets congested, head to the regular office supplies aisle. It’s less crowded and you can knock a bunch off items your list away from the crowds.
  3. Your time is money. You can save money by shopping many stores, or you can save on gas and time by choosing one big store. If you just need a couple of easy items, skip the crowds and go to a smaller store like a drug store or a dollar store.
  4. Anticipate needs. Think about what supplies you will need at home the entire school year. Stock up during sales on basics like pencils and notebook paper for middle-schoolers and high-schoolers before they get their official lists. Ask parents of a kid one grade older than yours what their child needed last year.
  5. Shop for value not just price. Remember, a cheap backpack won’t last the whole year. A thin T-shirt isn’t worth the $4 after the first hole.
  6. Bigger isn’t better. Back-to-school specials might make the 10-pack of pencils less expensive than the 30-pack or the two-pack of glue sticks a better value than the eight-pack.
  7. Use coupons and store deals wisely. Before you go, look online to see what specials are out there, but don’t get suckered into store deals. The 5 percent you save at one store might not be enough to overcome to great prices at another store.
  8. Tax-free weekend (Aug. 5-7) isn’t always the best. You’ll be fighting crowds and sometimes the 8.25 percent you save isn’t as much as the 10-, 20-, 30-percent off deals that happen at the end of the back-to-school season.
  9. Don’t bring the kids. For basics that will be shared with the whole class or are standard items, go it alone. Bringing the kids means more opportunities for unnecessary items to get into your basket.
  10. Do bring the kids, but set a budget. For personal items like backpacks and clothes, let kids pick them out, but set a limit of how much you are willing to spend. For a really smart lesson, bring the $30 cash you have allotted for a backpack and lunch box, or the $200 for new clothes, and let your child figure it out. When the money is gone, it’s gone.

Share your shopping tips with us by posting a comment on this story. Happy school shopping and don’t forget to enjoy the summer before it’s done. 

Author: Nicole Villalpando

Nicole Villalpando writes about families in the Raising Austin blog and the Raising Austin column on Saturdays. She also offers a weekly and monthly family calendar at austin360.com/raisingaustin. She tweets at @raisingaustin.

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