Hi Everyone! Happy Frugal Friday 🙂
Ready or not . . . fall is almost here! Back-to-school season is upon us once again. Although I am not heading back to school myself this September, I do miss the days when the end of August meant shopping for new school supplies, outfits, and stuff for my dorm room (not that I like to shop or anything . . . ).
My bank account, on the other hand, doesn’t miss these shopping sprees – getting ready to hit the books is expensive! A study done by the National Retail Federation predicts that this year alone Americans will spend over $72 billion on back-to-school/ back-to-college shopping; that’s $634.78 per student. Here are a few tips on how to get what you need for school without breaking your budget.
1. Ask – “Do I really need this?”: Stores are packed at this time of year with all sorts of new, flashy back-to-school merchandise and everything thing has a “special price” to “save you money.” It can be way too easy to walk out of a store with more than you bargained for in your cart. One easy way to keep your spending in line is to take a minute before you make a purchase to ask yourself if the item in your hand is something you absolutely, 100% need. Is it something you will use everyday? Do you have to have in order to get your school-work done? If you didn’t answer yes to any of those questions, PUT IT BACK! You don’t need it! Spend your money on things you need, like textbooks, paper, and pens. Fun stuff like new shoes, gadgets, and other non-essentials can wait. Before you even hit the store, sit down and make a list of the items you need to buy and stick to it once you get there. If it’s not on the list, don’t buy it!
2. Be Social: If you’ll be living in a dorm or off-campus apartment this fall, chances are you need furniture or appliances to outfit your new home. Chances are even better, a friend or family member might already have some of those things hiding unused in their basement. If you are looking to buy a specific item, like a mini-fridge or microwave, try e-mailing friends or posting a note on Facebook. Something as simple as changing your status to “Looking to buy a working, used mini-fridge for my dorm room. Inbox me if you have one you’d like to sell,” could mean the difference between finding a fridge for $10-20 or paying $100 for a brand new one.
3. Get Thrifty: Make Macklemore proud – go thrift-shopping! (I wear your granddad’s clothes, I look incredible . . .) Places like Good Will or the Salvation Army have all kinds of different great finds, from clothes, to furniture to home knick-knacks. Yard sales can also be a great source for cheap back-to-school finds. Instead of buying new, save a few bucks and buy second-hand.
4. Buy in Bulk: If you’re going to need a lot of it, you might as well buy it all at once. Campus living means buying necessities like paper towels, shampoo, and ramen noodles (brain food!). Often times items like these can be bought in cheaper in bulk; a campus convenience store may charge you $3 for 2 rolls of toilet paper, when you could get 12 rolls for that same price at a bargain store like BJs or Sams Club. Don’t get caught in a sticky situation where you have to pay too much for an item just because you ran out. Stock up on the things you use the most at the beginning of the year and you will save money in the long run.
I hope these tips help back-to-school shopper keep a few extra bucks in their pockets. Best of luck to all the student’s out there!
-Kelsey at Casco FCU