Ways to Save on Back-to-School Shopping (From a Fellow Mom)

Ways to Save on Back-to-School Shopping

It’s hard to believe, but Back-to-School season is already here. The evenings are slowly starting to get shorter again, vacation time is just about all used up, and planning for school is in motion at full-speed ahead. Whether your student is preparing for college or kindergarten, back-to-school shoppers will spend roughly $688 per household this year, with 64% spent on electronics and apparel, the National Retail Federation (NRF) states. In fact, results show in the NRF’s annual survey that the combined 2017 spending for college and primary education will be $83.6 billion, a 10% increase from last year. While overwhelming, there are actually plenty of ways to save on back-to-school shopping. Below are just a few from a fellow mom:

Ways to Save on Back-to-School Shopping

Tips from a Fellow Mom:

I spoke with my good friend Krista, who currently lives in Philadelphia, to find out how she saves on back-to-school shopping. She and her husband just bought a new house, so I know she is definitely not trying to spend $600 on supplies.

“[Even before the house], when it comes to saving money, I’m all about it. It’s my passion,” she joked. “Back to school shopping is more than just pencils and a new lunch box – it spans to include shoes, jackets, a new haircut, and more. Add that to activity and sports fees, field trips, etc. and sending your child back to school became a bigger cost than budgeted.”

So, going beyond the coupons and sales, here are some ways she saves that you can try as well: 

1. “Know where you will shop and buy a gift card,” she advises. “Do you always shop at a particular store for clothing? Perhaps you love Kohls or TJ Maxx for back to school clothing. If you are going to a particular place to shop, you can save up to 20% off by purchasing a gift card ahead of time. Check out Raise.com for discounted gift cards that have a money-back guarantee. You have the peace of mind knowing the gift card is authentic and the savings in your wallet. Combine these savings with a coupon code or cashback site if you’re shopping online, and you can save up to 35-40%.”

Now, that’s a deal.

2. Another simple way that Krista saves money? Signing up for loyalty programs and email lists. This especially comes in handy when your child needs a back-to-school eye exam, haircut, or even a physical. 

In the last week, I have received 4 offers for free back to school kid haircuts and an offer for a free eye exam. This saves us extra money and exposes us to a new business that we will likely go back to in the future.”

3. Ask yourself, does it need to be new? Krista raises the point that kids grow out of clothing, shoes, sports equipment, and so on so fast that sometimes they don’t even wear what we bought.

“You can save upwards of 75% retail by shopping children’s consignment sales,” she said. “There may be many in your area coming up for the fall. A quick Google search can put you in touch with savings opportunities around the corner.”


Some General Tips:

In general, there are other ways to save on back-to-school shopping, especially for those headed to college. Here are a few:

  • Make a List: Make a list of what you need, then, before you even think about shopping, do an inventory check of what you already have. By cross-checking your lists of needs and haves, you’ll avoid spending money you did not need to spend.
  • Determine a Budget (And Stick With It): Once your list is made, create a budget for your back-to-school shopping and stick with it. Don’t allow trends or unnecessary product features affect you spending goals.
  • Go online: Regardless of age, there are many savings to be had by shopping online. A great site to find textbooks cheaper is textbooks.com. You can purchase hard copies or electronic versions as well as sell books to other people.
  • Save By Waiting: If you’re a procrastinator when it comes to shopping, you’ll actually be able to benefit by this trait in some ways. Pencils, notebooks, and even fall clothes will all be cheaper at the end of August and beginning of September. The cost of clothes can certainly add up, so waiting for deals before you splurge will be a great money-saving tactic for which your bank account will thank you.
  • Buy in Bulk: While buying in bulk is not always great for grocery shopping, it is when it comes to school supplies such as those notebooks and binders. These are items your student will likely need next year, too, so save money by stocking up ahead of time.

When you put your mind to it, you’ll find some really creative ways to save on back-to-school shopping. What tips would you add to the list that have worked for you?

How to Give Your Home Curb Appeal On a Budget

how to give your home curb appeal on a budget

While the housing market is still not fully out of the red, there has been some positives in 2016. For one, millennials are finally starting to enter the market, which is a generation that some experts were concerned would never purchase homes, according to this Forbes article by real estate writer, Samantha Sharf. Sharf also noted that mortgage rates remained historically low in 2016. And although cities are still facing affordability issues, despite the increase of wages, homes are appreciating in value due to the decrease in demand to build new homes. In short, things seem to be looking up, even if it is at a slow pace.

Given the above, perhaps you’ve been considering selling your house to relocate or simply have a change of scenery. Or, conversely, maybe you’re simply interested in increasing your property’s value now so that, if or when the time comes, you’ll be ready. This could easily be a costly project, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to give your home curb appeal on a budget:

How to Give Your Home Curb Appeal On a Budget:

Sidewalks and Shutters

You may not realize it, but the simplest of tweaks can add a world of difference. It is often advised to pull out any weeds from between the sidewalk path leading to your home, tighten screws on any shutters to make sure they aren’t crooked or appear as though they may fall over, and the like. These fine details may be an effective (and simple) starting place.

Landscaping

Before planting anything new, make sure you have healthy soil or see where your current shrubbery could use improvements. Trim up overgrown bushes, clean up dead leaves, get rid of weeds in the grass and along the house, and so on. Quora user and real estate agent Andrey Sokurec recommends getting a spray tank and bottle of weed killer (available for roughly $42 total) and treating your yard with granulated fertilizer to make it greener longer.

Other landscaping tips to consider are to purchase colorful flowers for a nice pop if your exterior lacks color. You can incorporate shadow boxes below windows or on your porch railings, which will save money on mulch to line your house with flowers. Additionally, if you have space, you can look into planting trees on each side to frame your entry way. But, planter beware: Make sure to look into how large the trees will get first to avoid your home, particularly your front door, becoming hidden by them. Alternatively, you can use large potted plants to use at your doorway.

Paint

It’s amazing what a coat of paint can do, and this holds true for adding curb appeal. Painting your entire exterior will be costly, but you can simply paint your door, the trim, or shutters to provide the house with an updated look without breaking the bank.

Clean Up House

Keep your house looking nice on the outside by making sure toys are kept out of the yard, patio furniture isn’t damaged or looking decrepit, and the sidewalk and porch are swept. You should also try to power wash the outside of your home, especially if it is built with siding, to help give it a fresh face. Other than the cost of time, this will be essentially free to do.

Other ways to “clean up house” include but are not limited to:

  • Repainting or replacing your mailbox
  • Upgrading the numbers on your house
  • Replacing exterior lighting

But, before you start:

Even if you have no plans to sell your house anytime in the near future, you can still make these upgrades that will make you happy to come home to each time. But, before you start, you should determine what will look best with your home instead of trying to fit in an aspect that doesn’t work. Consider the following:

  • Take pictures. Interior designer Adrienne Kushner advises taking pictures of the exterior, including the sides and back of the house. This can help you see things you might otherwise miss. These photos can also assist in choosing shrubbery and colors that are right for your home.
  • Pick the right flowers and plants. Don’t plant anything without doing a little research on the type of plant and whether it will be a good fit for your environment and location. For example, flowers often need a lot of sunlight, and if your home is shadowed by surrounding trees, your flowers of choice may not be able to survive. It may also be more cost-effective to choose flowers that bloom annually rather than only live one season.
  • Choose colors that complement not take away from your home. With the pictures you take of your home, you may want to bring those with you to a local paint shop or home improvement store to see if they have any input on color choices for you. Let them know what style you’re going for, and they will likely provide you with some really helpful information, especially since they want you to buy paint from them.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t go overboard with shrubs and plants; simple is best to avoid a cluttered look. Need some inspiration? HelpMeBuild.com has some great suggestions here.
  • Have a budget in mind. Before you start any project, create a budget so that you do not go overboard and unnecessarily waste or spend money. If applicable, talk with your spouse first so that you are on the same page with spending.

What tips would you add on how to give your home curb appeal on a budget?

The Importance of Understanding Auto Insurance (And How It Could Save You Money)

understanding auto insurance

Having auto insurance is one of those essentials you need if you drive…legally, that is. Not just that, but having auto insurance does protect you and your vehicle should anything happen, whether it be a head-on collision or a hit-and-run. You need to see your car as an investment because it is. Thus, understanding auto insurance will be wise so that you know you are getting the best deal (and not just emptying your bank account). Here’s how you can save money while still ensuring you’re protected:

Understanding Auto Insurance

Compare Before You Buy

Similar to the concept of “try before you buy,” you want to always compare quotes side-by-side. In fact, you do not even need to wait until you are buying to do a comparison. Many companies would be more than happy to go over cost-savings with you based on your current insurance provider. But, if you don’t want to deal with a salesperson, do the comparison online.

For most providers, they will offer to email you an initial quote first based on the information you filled out. Once you do this for multiple companies, you can see the best route to take. Some sites, like Progressive, will even do a comparison side-by-side for you, which is a smart sales tactic for them. For a faster look at different quotes from various companies, though, NerdWallet offers a free online tool for you to do just that. Check it out here.

Don’t Go Without It

Every state makes it a requirement for drivers to carry auto insurance. Even motorcycle drivers need to have insurance. If you get caught without it, the costs could be much higher than your monthly premium. If you were to get into an accident, the state may go after your personal assets, you may have higher insurance costs, a suspension of your license, and so on. You can learn more about these penalties at DMV.org.

Be Cautious About Loaning Your Car

Insurance policies go after the vehicle and not the driver. This means that in an accident, they pursue the vehicle at-fault for costs, and whoever owns the car and is the policyholder is responsible for those costs. So, even if you were not the one driving your car, your insurance has to cover it, which will lead to higher insurance rates for you to pay.

More Miles, More Money

The more you drive on a regular basis, the more money you’ll have to pay for an insurance policy. They base this on the increased likelihood of an accident to take place with the amount of times your car is on the road. In order to avoid this increase, try to periodically utilize public transportation instead whenever possible.

Look for Policies With Accident Forgiveness

When you’re in an accident, your premium will typically increase, especially after multiple accidents in a row. That is, of course, unless you have accident forgiveness in your plan.

Put Multiple Cars On One Policy

Many auto insurance carriers have “bundle plans” that allow you to insure more than one car under one policy. This can help you save money rather than going through multiple companies.

Ask About Military Discounts

As a thank-you for serving our country, many companies will give a military discount for those currently enlisted or veterans. Be sure to ask and see they have any options for you.

Overall, understanding auto insurance helps you to save money (or avoid wasting it) by knowing what to look for or mistakes you can prevent. Hopefully, with this knowledge, you’ll be able to find the best coverage and plan for you.

What would you add to the list?