Back-to-school shopping is big business, second only to Christmas. Many parents dread this time of year because all those school clothes and supplies can leave a big hole in their pockets. Parents will spend an average of $674 per child on back-to-school shopping this year, according to the National Retail Federation. Consumer Reports offers tips to save time and money on shopping.
Lesson one: It all starts with proper planning. Set a realistic budget for what you want to spend and do a quick inventory at home. You want to make sure you don’t buy more of what you already have.
More than half of all parents surveyed by Rubicon, plan on using their mobile devices for at least some of their back-to-school shopping. A big chunk of their budget will go toward buying electronics. Consumer Reports says to consider buying certified, refurbished models from reputable retailers like Amazon. They can be less expensive and best if you’re buying them for young children who can drop or break them.
If you prefer new electronics and don’t need to buy them right away, you may get a better deal later in the year, like around Black Friday. And be aware, rather than shopping online, you may save more money by avoiding shipping costs and heading to a brick-and-mortar retailer.
If you go the in-store route, Consumer Reports suggests using a smartphone. Download an app such as RedLaser or DealNews to quickly scan products and compare prices or search for deals. Stores including Walmart, Target and Best Buy will match prices from some competitors right on the spot.
Another money-saving tip, especially for college students: Ask the store whether it offers a student discount. Many do, with savings of ten to twenty percent.
Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org.