Based on the results of a July NFCC Financial Literacy Online poll, the calendar doesn’t have much of an influence on the majority of shoppers who are looking for the best deals on school supplies. A substantial majority (69%) stated that it is best to shop throughout the year, whenever there is a sale. Getting children ready to start the school year is an expensive proposition for most families. Parents who wait until the last minute can run into some serious credit card debt if they aren’t careful.
The National Retail Federation estimates that families will spend an average of $630.36 this year, which can be a budget buster for those who haven’t planned ahead. For those who haven’t been looking for the best sales through the year, here are some tips for saving the most before the kids board the big yellow bus.
Look for tax-free holidays – There are still some parts of the country where shoppers can take advantage of special days where sales tax is suspended on school supply purchases. Check here to see when and where those are happening.
Make use of unused gift cards – If the gift cards from last Christmas have been gathering dust, it is a good time to take them along when buying clothes and supplies for the children.
Use the list provided by teachers – The schools and teachers may publish a shopping list that includes exactly what will be needed throughout the year. Stick to the items on the page, and there is a good chance that money won’t be wasted on unnecessary items.
Avoid shopping for everything at once – Those who shop throughout the year may be on to something when it comes to saving and staying within a budget, but the same strategy can be used even if there is less than a month to go. Watch the sales and shop for a little at a time to have the best chance for savings in every category.
When it comes to the rest of the year and beyond, start planning ahead for the best bargains on clothing, books, pencils, notepads, and all other schoolhouse necessities. Looking for sales throughout the year will give your budget a break during the last weeks of summer.
The NFCC July poll question and results are as follows:
When shopping for school supplies, it is best to wait until:
- The week before school begins. 8%
- A month before the first day of school.13%
- Only when there is a tax-free shopping day. 10%
- Throughout the year whenever there is a sale. 69%
Note: The NFCC’s July Financial Literacy Opinion Index was conducted via the homepage of the NFCC website (www.nfcc.org) from July 1 – 31, 2015, and was answered by 1029 individuals.
Bruce McClary is Vice President of Public Relations & External Affairs with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Views expressed are the personal views of the author, and do not represent the views of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, its employees, its members, or its clients.