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Here’s How to Save on Back-to-School Shopping

youth accounts

We think a youth account really is one of the best tools to teach kids about spending money wisely and the awesomeness of saving where you can. Whatever your method, here are some tips from NerdWallet to help with those back to school expenses. Happy shopping and have a great school year!

The pressure is on to keep up with the Joneses. One in five parents intends to spend more this year than before on back-to-school supplies simply to help their kids fit in with their peers, according to an Accenture survey. A third of parents plan on increasing school-related expenditures by $250 or more, with 71% of parents citing higher prices as the reason, and 56% blaming school requirements. Here are a few ideas to help hold down any increases.

Top five savings tips

  •  Use what’s thereMost people are surprised at how many reusable notebooks, binders, and pens are already stashed away in cabinets. Raid the closet, too, sorting out clothing that really doesn’t fit and choosing what can be handed down to another kid. Do this before starting a list of what you actually need.
  • Plan ahead—Use that list to create a budget for what’s reasonably affordable. More back-to-school shoppers have access to a mobile device than ever before, with 54% planning to use a tablet and 57% planning on using a smartphone as a shopping tool. Consider “webrooming,” or using technology to peruse the major discount retailers to find the lowest prices online or in-store
  • Find dealsHead out for the big shopping day armed with coupons and deals. Save coupons that apply towards an entire purchase for buying everything in bulk or for making big electronic purchases, and don’t forget to bring a student ID to capitalize on any student or education discounts.
  • Wait it outStores start pushing back-to-school marketing campaigns as early as July, but that’s not necessarily when the best prices are to be found. A NerdWallet study of more than 500 back-to-school deals across nine national retailers showed that 78% of the school supply types examined sold at the same price in August as in July, with 12% of items dropping in price in August. Labor Day weekend often brings clearance sales as well.
  • Buy in bulkIf you have multiple kids, buying in bulk can lead to big savings, especially with coupons and sales. While it might be a big cost up front, there will be a reserve for when supplies dwindle mid-year.

Saving at every age

Just because kids are envious of something a friend has doesn’t mean parents must buy it. You can teach your youngsters to differentiate between needs and wants by having them use their own money to pay for the wants this year. Opening and using a savings account can help along the way.

    1. Kids—If the piggy bank is overflowing with coins, it may be time to start a youth account. Often, these products require no minimum amount and are fee-free, allowing youngsters up to age 12 to start stashing their cash in a more grown-up manner. To provide an incentive, let your child set aside a portion of any money he or she gets to go toward a desired toy or game.
    2. Teens—More sophisticated savings programs are often available for teens, and may include a checking account as well as use of a debit card. Teens might dedicate a percentage of summer job savings for a desired clothing staple that won’t go out of style, like a jean jacket.
    3. College—At age 18, kids can get adult checking and savings accounts. As savings goals grow for life after college, they can use a more refined way of earning interest, such as a Share Certificate 

Conversations with children about saving shouldn’t end with back-to-school shopping. Continue to discuss money management skills with them throughout the school year.

Cait Klein, NerdWallet

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