Make School Shopping a Summer Breeze

You know the weekend. The one when stores are packed with bargain hunters hoping to save some money by avoiding taxes on the items needed to start school in style. While it's great to be able to find bargains, sometimes the frenzy of the busy Tax Free Weekend may entice you to purchase everything in sight. But, no worries, we have some ideas on how you can navigate successfully through the back-to-school shopping season and hopefully save some money in the process.

Know what you need. Those supply lists issued by the school are helpful, but you can actually go a step further in planning your shopping, before you ever head out to the stores. Shop through what you already have – whether it's passing down binders from one child to another or discovering that last year's backpack is in perfectly good condition. When you can cross a few items off before you ever head to the store, you'll be able to save a little before you even start shopping!

Talk to your kids. The time to set expectations for school shopping is not in the middle of the store when you're scrambling frantically to find the last "One Direction" lunchbox. Sit down with your kids before you ever leave the house. Let them know what you need, what they can purchase and whether there's any room to negotiate on extras (like more costly sparkly or colorful pencils instead of the standard No. 2 yellow ones). Get them involved in the process of making decisions and use the school shopping experience as an opportunity to teach them about budgeting and balancing needs vs. wants.

Bulk up on basics. If you see a great, loss-leader type product, you might want to buy extra and store it somewhere for later in the year. For example, you know your kids will need to restock notebook paper mid-year, so why not purchase it now when the packages cost less than a quarter rather than waiting until it's a necessity and costs have gone up?

Spread it around. If you have time, you may want to consider browsing different online sale flyers or checking in at various stores. Buy the great deals from each store, the ones that are designed to lure customers in. You have to start early to take this approach, though. Also, factor in the value of your time and gas money. If you're using a dollar worth of gas to save 20 cents on glue, that's probably not a financially-savvy decision.

Finally, when you're shopping for school supplies, you know it's important to use the right buying tool. Of course, you know there's one supply you need to take with you whenever you're shopping – your Freedom Check Card. Use it to earn 10 cents cash back whether you're buying a scientific calculator or sturdy new backpack. It's money well saved!

Cash back program subject to change. Visit our website for details.