Fatherhood can be expensive. Back to school is traditionally one of those times when families can see a large amount of cash going out. That is why smart dads are always looking for opportunities to save and make the family dollar go further.
Here are seven ways that dads can make sure they get the most for their dollar while gearing up to send their kids back to school:
Time it Right
1. Find the Closest Tax-Free Holiday
One of the best ways to save on school supplies is to time it right. Since the mid-1990’s states and localities across the U.S. have offered tax-free holidays or weekends. Shopping for school supplies on these days can amount to up to 12 percent savings in some areas. That means dad could save $10 on a pair of tennis shoes or a coat that would normally cost $80. If you multiply those savings by multiple kids or items, saving up and shopping on a tax free holiday can really mean a lot for dad’s wallet!
To locate the closest tax-free locations and dates, visit the Federal Tax Administrators State Sales Tax Holiday directory.
2. Target the “End-of-Season” Sales
Another great time to save while preparing for the school year happens more than once a year. When retailers across the nation prepare to change their inventory, big clearance sales happen to rid stores of overstocked inventory and out-of-season merchandise. Generally, these sales take place in January, June and August. For the dad who is an expert planner, and has a little room to hold on to things the family may not need for a season, the end-of-season sale can be a great way to save money over the long run.
Locate the Savings Win
3. Consider Breaking Your Location Loyalty
One of the ways many dads and families end up spending more than necessary on school supplies is by being creatures of habit. Online and offline retailers are always battling to increase their customer base by offering sales and coupons. Dads can benefit if they are smart enough to do a quick price check for deals at different locations or online retailers.
Years ago, this price comparison would have meant hours of research. Now there are smartphone apps that help dads tackle the deal-hunting challenge. Here are a few of the top suggestions from PC Magazine:
- RedLaser – Scan a barcode to find a better price and store all of your loyalty cards to get deals at the register with RedLaser. RedLaser is available on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.
- ShopSavvy – This app not only finds better prices nearby, it also allows you to watch for price breaks or deals. Just enter an item description and receive a text-message style alert when the identified item goes on sales. ShopSavvy is available on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.
- BuyVia – BuyVia not only searches for the best price, the application also delivers reviews to let you know what other purchasers have reported about a product. BuyVia is available on iOS.
4. Shop Online for Items that Have a “Sure Fit”
Shopping online for certain items can be scary due to concerns over quality and fit. On the other side of the coin, there are always items on the back to school list that never change size or have what we would call a “sure fit.” Check your shopping list and your favorite online retail sites for deals on common school supplies like:
- Writing utensils and supplies
- Lunchboxes and water bottles
- Notebooks and pads
- Small electronics
Plan for Profit
5. Leverage the List Power
One sure fire way for spending to get out of control is to skip making a list. Developing a firm list of supplies based on communication with teachers and insights from other parents or previous years is a great way to keep from going over budget. If you have multiple family members with a Smartphone, consider an application like Evernote or WunderList (both available for free) where everyone can collaborate in shopping and saving.
6. Take a Neighborhood Supply Inventory
Many times the supplies that your children need for the school year are closer than you think. Before the school year shopping starts, talk with dads and parents you know, friends and neighbors, about what leftovers or extras they may have from last year. Hosting a neighborhood supply exchange can be a great way to leverage your community and connections to save dollars for everyone on your street.
7. Team Up for the Big Bulk Payoff
Last but not least, remember that there is strength in numbers. Teaming up with other dads and parents can be a great way to save on back to school. Buying in bulk and splitting the cost of some supplies can save you in the long run. If you’re looking for ways to meet local dads that may want to team up to shop and are looking for effective fatherhood tips, check out the NRFC’s Connect with Programs section to find a fatherhood program near you.
These are just seven smart ways to save on back to school shopping. Have a tip for other dads? Share it on our Facebook page!
Jovan Hackley, National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse team member and outreach and strategy consultant