S.M.A.R.T. Back-to-School Shopping
School supply lists seem to get longer each year, and when you have more than one child to shop for, it can really add up. So it's no surprise that just about everyone is looking for ways to shop smarter.
In the most recent Back-to-School Shopping Forecast survey from PriceGrabber, 95 percent of shoppers will be using money-saving techniques to get school supplies this year. The survey also found that:
* 69 percent will shop online or use comparison shopping websites.
* 52 percent plan to spend as much as they did last year, while 35 percent say they'll spend less.
* 55 percent will spread the cost of purchases over a longer period of time.
When you're ready to stock up on backpacks, notebooks and an endless supply of pens, use these tips to help you be a smart back-to-school shopper:
S – Streamline your shopping.
* Instead of driving all over town to get what you need, get as much as you can at one-stop-shops such as Office Depot. Picking up school supplies and classroom supplies – such as tissues, disinfectant wipes, etc. – saves you time and hassle. And it keeps you out of frustrating traffic.
* Check the store's website before you go – make sure it will have the supplies you need so you don't waste time looking for something that's not there. If what you need isn't in-store, consider ordering online.
M – Make a list.
* Work with your child to craft your shopping list before hitting the stores.
* Many retailers work with local PTAs and school districts to secure back-to-school shopping lists, making it easy to find exactly what your child needs.
* Take an extra pen with you and have your child check off supplies as you get them.
A – Ads and alerts.
* To help you save money, pay attention to the weekly ad inserts in your local newspaper. Combining sale prices with coupons saves you even more. Keep an eye out for super savings, such as Office Depot's Penny Savers, when you can find many core supplies on sale for just a penny.
* You can also sign up for special deal alerts through retailers' websites and Facebook pages, giving you the scoop on extra savings.
* If you want to avoid overfilling your email inbox, set up a separate email account just for retail alerts.
R – Rewards and rebates.
* Many retailers have rewards programs that let you in on extra savings.
* Some retailers also have programs that help you earn school supplies for your school. For example, during the back to school season, parents and teachers can give back to communities through Office Depot's "5% Back to Schools" program, in which 5 percent of purchases goes, in the form of a credit, to a designated school to use towards supplies.
* To take advantage of rebates, check manufacturer websites as well as retailer websites for the latest ways to get money back.
T – Technology tips.
* Keep your computers up to date with the latest virus and malware protection.
* If your child will be doing online research for homework, you can put some parental controls in place to protect your child – check out Google SafeSearch, AOL Parent Controls or ATT Smart Controls, or with your current Internet provider.
* You can see user and professional reviews of parental control software at www.consumersearch.com.
Taking a little time to do your homework now will help you save time and money on school supplies when you're ready to start shopping. To get the latest in back-to-school savings, visit www.officedepot.com.