photo credit: Kent Sievers (Omaha World-Herald)
Doesn’t it seem as if we just settled into the warm weather and sunshine, only to be bombarded with reminders about sales on notebooks, pens, and other back-to-school items?
If those emails and commercials don’t convince you that back-to-school shopping season is in full swing, Statista, a leading Internet portal for statistics, confirms that, “The back-to-school shopping season is the second-largest seasonal shopping period of the year in terms of consumer spending.”
And, the National Retail Federation is projecting spending for kindergarten through college to come in at $75.8 billion this season, which is an increase from last year’s spending of $68 billion. Furthermore, their findings showed that most of the shopping is expected to be performed at discount stores.
It is interesting to note that, as many schools shift learning to online and mobile solutions, traditional “old-school” (no pun intended) note taking, reading and writing is morphing from paper to technology.
It’s difficult to find statistics on the changes happening within elementary and secondary schools that have embraced online learning; however, on the collegiate level, the University of the Potomac found that there are 6.7 million U.S. students enrolled in some sort of online course. Potomac also states that more than 275 universities are accredited as online universities and 30% of college students are enrolled in at least one online course.
Many professors and teachers, even at lower grade levels of education, will only accept papers submitted online.
So, if the above information is any indication of what you might be spending your money on this back-to-school season, a Deloitte Back-To-School Survey verifies that, “While clothing and school supplies still dominate back-to-school lists, electronics are at the top of the class for those families who plan to spend in this category.
Survey respondents shopping for technology-related items (29 percent) said they would spend an average of $456 on computers (including software, hardware, and accessories), and $286 on gadgets like tablets, smartphones and wearables.
Additionally, 31 percent say they are buying fewer traditional school supplies because their child is using more technology for school.”
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” – Tips For School Shopping With Your Kids
Now that you know what types of products you’re expected to buy, you can head to the store. Don’t go alone! Bring your kids; however, before you do, take the opportunity to make this a teachable moment for your kids with some of the following tips:
Sit down with your kids and help them create a list of what they think they need for school. Break the list into different categories, such as clothes, supplies, technology, and sports equipment. Make them research, online, to find the estimated costs for each product. Then, you review the list and cull it down to where you are comfortable.
If the kids feel that they can’t possibly turn up at school without five pairs of designer jeans, then they can earn that extra money to buy them. If they chose not to work to pay for what they want, you can always resort to, “I’m not paying for that.” Those words work, if you stick-to-your-guns. (Don’t let them hit up grandma and grandpa for the overage.)
The list is essential and it should help you to stay disciplined when you are in the store with your kids, who are begging for the cool backpack. Even if tears ensue, stick to the list. It is a great learning experience. If it doesn’t work and the tantrum has started, you have learned a valuable lesson; don’t shop with the kids.
Finding back-to-school items at discount retailers is another great activity in which to get the kids involved. There are online sites for them to check out the best deals on the products they want. There are comparison websites, too.
Shopping can be dynamic. Each day different places have sales. Just make sure that the kids are not driving you crazy with the great deal they found in Kentucky that you can only buy at 6:00 AM next Tuesday, especially if you live in New York City.
Aside from the in-store sales, there are other ways to find a good buy. Coupons are great in adding a significant discount to your back-to-school items. Make it a scavenger hunt and have your kids find coupons for the items on their list.
In addition to saving money with coupons, some states offer limited tax breaks or “tax havens” on back-to-school purchases. For instance, 17 states are holding a “sales tax holiday,” with many starting this weekend. Have your kids do the research to see whether or not your state is included on the list.
Lastly, another way to obtain extra savings on back-to-school supplies is with a simple Student ID. We’re all familiar with college student IDs, which provide discounts on campus; however, the student ID can be used when buying products with major retailers. Again, have your kids do the research and make them plan where to go to get the best deal.
Retro is in, so why not buy something used? Shopping at used bookstores and second-hand shops can offer a huge cost savings while still offering quality. For instance, a used backpack can have little or no damage and your child can even decorate it with stickers and keychains they collect throughout the year.
If you are buying used books, make sure the book is the correct edition the course calls for. Also, if there is too much underlining or highlighting inside, your student may not be concentrating on details from a former student. If that is the case, spring for the new edition.
Just remember that the whole purpose of back-to-school shopping is to prepare your kids to be independent and get a well-deserved education. It could also be time for you, the parent, to get a break. Try not to seem too happy when the kids head out for their first day of school.