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Back to School Shopping Mistakes

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As you’re shopping for back to school supplies and clothes, here are a few mistakes to try and avoid.

Failing to Establish a Budget

When you set out to pick up everything on your list, whether you shop at 10 stores or just a couple, make sure you set a budget, so you’re not flying blind and don’t spend what you can’t afford. Figure out what they’re going to need and how much you can spend. Then, make a list, gather your coupons, consult with your kids about favorite characters, and unless it is absolutely necessary, leave the kids at home. You’ll be able to concentrate on the task at hand without having to separate them and make sure they aren’t wandering off.

Not Comparison Shopping

Many of the big box stores are touting that they have the lowest prices, but do they? Pens, pencils, notebooks, loose leaf paper, folders and the like are on sale for cheap, but not all on the same day. Gather your list and look through the ads. Mark which stores have the best prices on the items you need, and if you can’t find low prices on what you need or a variety of what you’re looking for, don’t forget to shop online. Many online retailers offer free shipping and shopping codes for money off, too so you may be able to get supplies for cheaper and you won’t have to leave home.

Buying Based on Price Alone

If your high schooler needs a graphing calculator and you see one for $50 and one for $65, your first instinct may be to snap up the $50 calculator, but resist. Look online for reviews of graphing calculators. Amazon has user reviews, and another website CNET is another good place to look for product reviews. If most people hate the $50 calculator, but love the $65 calculator, it may be in your best interest to spend a little more to buy the more user friendly $65 calculator.

Not Planning for the Future

You know the kids are going to run out of things throughout the course of the year, so snap up notebooks, pens, pencils, book covers and folders while they’re cheap. You should also grab deals on household goods you need and take advantage of sales while you can. You may not need tape and Kleenex right now, but you likely will need tape around the holidays and Kleenex come cold and flu season, so if you can get them cheap, stock up.

Also, know your price points so you can spot a good sale, use cash when you can, and resist the urge to jump at store credit cards. Sure, they’re a deal now, but with high interest rates and a likely annual fee, it won’t seem like a deal down the road.

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