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Video: Saving on back-to-school shopping

Summary

Back-to-school shopping can be hard on the pocketbook, but we have you covered with tips on how to save money and make the most of your credit card rewards

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It’s time to stock up for school, and depending on the number of kiddos and their needs, you could see the number in your bank account drop dramatically.

So, we reached out to a parenting blog site, Austin Mom’s Blog, for advice on making back-to-school shopping as painless as possible.

“Just get what you need,” suggests Austin Mom contributor Rachel Campbell, a small-business owner and single mom on a tight budget. “It’s need to have versus nice to have.”

Campbell also reached out to her community of bloggers for seven tips to save you money and help you make the most of your rewards cards as you fill a cart or two full of school clothes, backpacks, pens and more.

1. Make a list and a budget.

Either use the teacher’s list or write out your own, but make sure you have a game plan before you hit the store and commit to sticking to it. Also, be sure to write down how much you can spend and circle it to make sure you don’t stray on impulse buys.

2. Use technology for deals.
Follow your favorite stores on social media for special coupons. If you plan to shop online, download an app such as Ebates which can help you get discounts on your purchases. If Amazon is your shop of choice, use a credit card that lets you use points for purchases on the site, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

3: Think outside the big box.
When shopping brick-and-mortar stores, head over to discount shops for some great deals that don’t require coupons. 

“Dollar General and Dollar Tree have stepped up their game with school supplies and classroom supplies, and they really offer much more affordable options than some of the more obvious choices,” says Campbell.

4. Make your credit card pay you.
Pay for your holiday travels early by signing up for a great travel rewards card now, since you know you’ll be spending more for school supplies. You can use the extra expenses to meet the new card’s minimum spend to earn a big sign-up bonus.

If you’re more in need of cash than travel, look for a great cash back card – 1.5 percent to 2 percent are good returns. If you know you spend most of your money in one category, such as groceries or wholesale clubs, then find a card with a big cash back percentage where you shop the most.

5: Pay your card off immediately.
Make sure your card strategy doesn’t cost you more than it rewards you. Whether it’s a store card or bank card, pay it off immediately to avoid interest charges. If you’re using a store card, bring your checkbook along and head over to customer service after making your purchases so you don’t forget to pay off the balance on time.

6. Host a back-to-school-swap.
Campbell recommends inviting other parents over to swap lightly used clothes, book bags and shoes to freshen up your kids’ wardrobes without cost. Put out a few snacks and drinks for the kids and remember what is old to someone else is new to you.  

7: Get it done in one day.
Everyone has a strategy for getting the best deals, but Campbell suggests limiting the shopping spree to one day, preferably over the tax-free weekend (if your state has one of these for back-to-school purchases). Multiple shopping trips can lead to multiple impulse buys that can cut into your budget.

By doing your homework and following a few rules, you can make back-to-school shopping both easy on your budget and your nerves.

See related: Blog: 9 early back-to-school shopping tips

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