(Family Features) Between navigating store aisles and online sales for everything from clothes and shoes to supplies and sports equipment, back-to-school shopping can be a time-consuming – and expensive – endeavor.
To help stay on budget while still getting everything you need, consider these tips from Vitaly Pecharsky, head of deals for Slickdeals, a one-of-a-kind online community of shoppers working together to shop smarter and save more.
Take stock of current inventory – Before you hit the stores, take inventory of items you already have at home or in the office to see what you truly need. Knowing what you already have on hand can help you avoid the temptation of stocking up on items you may not even need just because they were on sale. That 50-cent pack of crayons may be a good deal, but too many of those can add up, especially if you realize later you had the same item sitting unused in a closet or drawer at home.
Check with teachers – Don’t be afraid to email your children’s teachers before classes start to find out what supplies are absolutely necessary. Sometimes a school will put out a list, but the teachers may not require you to have all the items on the list, particularly if students may be sharing and supplies may need to be restocked later in the school year.
Tap into technology – Shopping online is a quick and easy way to compare products, services and prices, but it can be overwhelming trying to determine if you’re really getting the best option. Before making a final decision on everything from laptops to markers, visiting a site like Slickdeals can help you find the best products at the best prices. With 12 million users who vet and vote on deals from top retailers, you can feel comfortable knowing you’re getting the best value. You can also set deal alerts to be notified via email when a deal that matches your criteria gets posted.
Buy pre-owned – From uniforms and sporting equipment to clothing and more, not everything needs to be new each school year. Visiting online consignment shops can help you find big savings on like new, often brand name clothing, accessories and more.
Avoid buying equipment for extracurricular activities all at once – If your children are trying new sports, clubs or extracurricular activities for the first time, consider waiting to purchase all the necessary equipment. Oftentimes, you may be able to borrow or buy pre-owned items from other parents whose kids have outgrown the equipment or no longer participate. If your children end up deciding a sport or activity isn’t for them, you’re not stuck with things that may end up collecting dust in the garage or basement.
Shop without your kids – Leaving the kids at home when shopping may help save money, according to a survey commissioned by Slickdeals and conducted by OnePoll. The study of 2,000 parents in the United States found 2 out of 3 respondents believe shopping with their kids tends to be more expensive than shopping by themselves with solo ventures costing an average of $133 compared to $179 when taking children along.
Take advantage of student discounts – If you have children in college, you may be able to use their student ID cards to your advantage to save even more money. Before making purchases on big-ticket items like tablets or laptops, be sure to inquire about discounts available only for students. Some companies even offer student-only memberships for discounted services, such as shipping, video, music and more.
Find deals on supplies and gear for back-to-school season at Slickdeals.com.