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Back-to-School Shopping Doesn’t Need to be so Stressful

Whether you are in Europe the US or Latin America, if you are a parent of a school aged child you are all facing the same stress: gearing up for back to school.  Each year parents around the world, regardless of where they live or their social economic status they worry about preparing to send their little one off to school.  Will they be ready?  Will I have enough money to buy them the supplies and uniforms they need?  Did I buy enough?  What will they eat? Will they apply themselves?

Fortunately there are some things that parents can do to make back to school a little less stressful.  According to MasterCard’s Smart Consumer program, planning ahead is critical.

Here are some other useful tips:

1. Search your home for school supplies that can be reused or recycled – For example, check that your child’s calculator is still functions; perhaps it only needs new batteries.

2. Make a list of what you need to buy – You request this information from the school or teacher.  By making a list, you avoid compulsive shopping – buying those things you don’t need.

3. Exchange/trade or sell used books and other materials You can learn from other parents about supplies or books your child may need for the school year.  There are also a number of websites that sell or event rent text books and other supplies.

4. Bargain and comparison shopVisit several stores that sell the item you wish to purchase to identify which gives you more for your money

5. Purchase only what is necessary – Speak to your children about the value of money.  If their book bag is in perfect condition avoid purchasing a new one just because it’s in “fashion” or has the latest animated character.

6. Take advantage of sales and discount coupons Utilize coupons or stay on the lookout for retailer sales around federal holidays.

7. Shop during the tax exempt holidays – This may vary from country to country, state to state.  Ask your local chamber of commerce or state department for information on tax exempt holidays.

8. If you don’t have the money, pay in installments – Most stores offer “layaway”, the ability to set aside the items you want to purchase and pay little by little.

9. Don’t forget the Dollar or Discount store Most dollar or discount stores offer many of the same well known school supply brands sold at large retailers.

10. If you can, buy a little extraLet’s face it, kids lose things.  When you find a bargain and can buy a little extra do it!

In summary, the key to avoiding back-to-school stress is being a Smart Consumer.  Think before you shop, take advantage of sales and bargains and plan ahead.  Good luck!