These tips and tricks are the easiest and sometimes most effectual steps you can take to save you money, because overspending can hurt you many times more than simply not shopping sales.
1) Clear out old school supplies and clothing and inventory your stuff.
Get rid of every broken crayon, pencil without an eraser, dried out marker, shirt with an irreparable hole in it, and sweater you’ll never wear again. Once you’ve purged your clutter, you can better gauge what you have versus what you need. Gone are the days of buying duplicate cardigans and mechanical pencil packs! You’ll know everything you have before you go shopping.
2) Comparison shop from home.
Before you even walk through the door, you should know what you need from the store and about how much it should cost you. During the back to school season, retailers will make their brick-and-mortar store pricing available through their weekly ads in your local Sunday paper, or even right on their website. Compare competing ads before you go to make sure you’re getting a great price.
3) Make a list and stick to it.
I’m sure you’ve heard this tidbit before, but it’s tried and true. Once you’ve cleared out your clutter, make a list of things you NEED (not simply what you want) and review it. Cut out anything you could do without. For instance, you have a nice pair of black leggings in your closet, but do you really need a grey pair? You’re probably fine.
Bring that list with you to the store and stick to it! This is the hardest part, as it requires some serious impulse control and discipline.
4) Set a budget.
I know this sounds thoroughly tiresome at first glance, but would you rather know how much money you can spend without missing rent or would you rather have to sell your hair to make ends meet? Set a budget and tailor your list to it.
5) Use a cash-only approach.
If you bring your shopping budget in cash, you can see exactly how much is leaving your hands and you’ll know precisely where you stand with your budget. And studies show that people who bring cash while shopping tend to spend less. Bonus!
6) Don’t get suckered into end cap advertising or BOGO/ “twofer” deals.
Okay, this is a pretty big one, as these two combined can make your total at the cash register skyrocket.
An “end cap” is the end of an aisle in a store which has its own display. Consumers have a misconception that whatever items are on the end caps are on sale or are a good value. Oftentimes stores will put featured items that are not on sale (they may even jack the price up!) in this prime real estate simply because it’s so eye-catching (and of course, to capitalize on the aforementioned popular consumer misconception).
Also, don’t be afraid to NOT go for a BOGO deal if you only really need one item. I’ve worked in a retail store where t-shirts were $19.50 a piece or 2/$32. While the unit price does drop when you buy two, you just went from a $19.50 purchase to a $32.00 purchase because of the perceived savings. You’re not saving when your shopping total goes up.
Wrap-Up and Helpful Links
There’s already enough going on with your BTS preparations, why add debt-related stress? Be realistic with your money and your needs versus your wants. If you know there is going to be a big expenditure time (in this case, BTS shopping) start setting aside a few dollars a week so you’re not totally unprepared when August comes around.
Do you have some great BTS budgeting or spending ideas? Lay ’em on me down in the comments!
‘Til next time, stay saving, my friends.