In today’s economy, saving money when shopping for back-to-school items is easier said than done. For frugal shopping expert Trish Garvis, cutting such costs is all in a day’s work. “I have a basic thrift shopping principle that applies to back-to-school items: Never be caught in a panic,” says Garvis, the mother of eight girls and one boy and author of Get More for Your Money. “Being in a panic is expensive. You must think ahead and plan for future needs.”
For more than 20 years, Garvis, who lives in Leesburg, Va., has calmly and successfully supervised her family’s limited budget on her carpenter husband’s income. Her basic thrift shopping principle, coupled with a clever knack for stretching a dollar, has seen the Garvis family through the toughest of economic situations.
As a new school year approaches, such dedicated frugality may become a necessity. According to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey, in 2019 consumers with school-age children planned to spend an average of $442 per household on back-to-school shopping alone. The survey also reported that low-income households (earning $25,000 or less per year) planned to use a greater portion of their income – an average of $513 – on back-to-school shopping in 2019.
Sharing Financial Responsibility
Managing a household of 11, Garvis has made a lifetime commitment of beating those odds, especially when school clothes shopping. Although the Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) averages the cost of elementary students’ jeans at $40 and shoes at $50 per pair, her best advice is to avoid surrendering to soaring retail prices and becoming a “slave to fashion.”
“My deal with my teens is this, ‘It’s my job as a parent to see that you are dressed. If you want to be cool, that’s on your dollar,'” she says. “I’m happy to buy the classics that every generation since the ‘50s has worn, such as blue jeans, tennis shoes and T-shirts. But I don’t have to spend $120 on shoes when there are adequate ones out there for $20. I’ll spend the $20, and if my child just has to have the expensive shoes, she’s putting up the other $100.”
According to Garvis, the notion of sharing financial responsibility for trendy and high-priced clothing has worked well with her children over the years. “None of my four teens has ever gone for the expensive item,” she says. “They buy most of their own clothes, and they always check the clearance rack at their favorite stores where they find great bargains, like a $4 denim dress from the Gap.”
The NRF confirms this spending partnership trend, reporting that roughly one in three consumers (37.7 percent) with children ages 6 to 17 years old said that their kids planned to use their own money for back-to-school shopping in 2002. According to the NRF survey, on average, those children planned to spend $131 on back-to-school items – an addition of almost one-third to their parents’ total household back-to-school budgets.
“When parents gear up for school, they know they’re in for a financial tug-of-war with their children,” says Tracy Mullin, NRF president and CEO. “But it appears that for many families, especially lower-income ones, the retail back-to-school season offers a particularly attractive combination of savings, strategic sales tax holidays (in many states) and fresh fall options to please kids – and their wallets.”
Christmas in July
Nancy Peterson, of Carmel, Ind., a mother of 11-year-old twin girls and one 10-year-old boy, finds that post-holiday sales and promotions throughout the year make the return to classes less of a burden on her family’s pocketbook. “I like to go back-to-school shopping the week after the Fourth of July, when the stores first set up the back-to-school displays and the ads come out in the papers,” she says. “If you wait until the middle of August, everything is picked over. I always buy summer clothes right after the Fourth of July and winter clothes right after Christmas. Everything is marked down.”
For the Peterson family, the annual tradition of back-to-school shopping compares to a favorite holiday. “Shopping for back-to-school supplies is a big event in our household,” Peterson says. “It ranks right up there with selecting a Halloween pumpkin or a Christmas tree. The kids love to pick out their school supplies.”
With three children so close in age, Peterson also continually searches for savings ideas. In her experience, she has found that investing in quality items, rather than purchasing cheaper brands each year, proves beneficial in the long run. “In the past, I’ve bought good backpacks that the kids can use year after year,” she says. “I always write my child’s name on everything to make sure the items can be used again next year, and I use a permanent marker so the name won’t rub off.”
If a tight back-to-school budget this year does not allow for investment in name brands of backpacks, clothing and other accessories purchased from department stores, the Internet may be another option to save money. New and gently used items including Tommy Hilfiger shirts, MUDD jeans and Tupperware back-to-school snack sets can be found on eBay at more than half their retail price. Also, eBay offers a “Summer Fashion Brand Blowout” that includes top-dollar labels such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Tommy, The Gap, Banana Republic and Ralph Lauren/Polo at considerably lower prices than offered at the shopping malls or retail outlets.
To save on new school supplies this fall, such as backpacks, lunch bags, pens, pencils, notebooks, calculators and craft accessories, parents can log on to office supply Web sites. Online stores such as staples.com and officedepot.com both feature hundreds of back-to-school items, and they offer free delivery on orders of $50 more. This not only saves a trip to the store, but can also provide savings of up to half off the retail price of many name-brand school supplies.
With such sound advice from experienced mothers and a little help from the World Wide Web, saving on back-to-school shopping has never been so easy. Just heed the words of a mother of nine and don’t panic – the savings will surely come.
Using online loan lenders
There’s no need to worry about financial challenges. Keep your pride and your personal situations personal by not calling family and friends to ask for money. Stay out of your human resources office asking for an advance on your pay check through your company.
Cash loans are a fast, secure solution to your financial needs. Don’t worry about your credit rating. The website SimplePayday says they are “…designed to help with immediate financial needs.” You can have great credit, bad credit, or no credit. Your credit is your verifiable current employment history.
Getting cash this way is easy. You complete the online information. Your request is then sent to several lenders instantly. Within minutes, you are approved for the amount of money you need to solve your short-term financial needs. You review the terms of the loan to make sure you are able to meet the conditions, you accept, and the funds are directly deposited into your bank account within one (1) business day. It’s truly that easy.