8 ways to avoid going into debt while back-to-school shopping

Here are 10 essentials and 10 non-essentials; buy one, avoid the other
Updated: Aug. 5, 2019 at 6:41 PM CDT
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(KSLA) — Don’t get sidetracked when it comes to back-to-school shopping. It could easily cause some serious damage to your wallet and lead you down the road of unnecessary debt.

It’s safe to say that most parents want their children to have the things they didn’t have while growing up. That’s understandable.

However, it’s okay for your children to have those things within reason.

In addition to kids being taught at school, it’s also important to teach children at home about the value of a dollar.

Teaching our children how to budget should start at an early age, experts advise. And what better way than to have their own back-to-school budget.

According to Credit Karma, more than 50% of parents have gone into debt to buy nonessential items or experiences for their children.

Items considered nonessential include:

  • Designer clothes
  • Concerts, musicals or theater
  • Organic food
  • Study abroad
  • Private school
  • Summer camps
  • Cosmetic care
  • Personal laptop
  • Pets
  • Cellphone

Items considered essential:

  • Food
  • Shoes
  • Clothes
  • School supplies
  • Bed
  • Medical services
  • House
  • Back-to-school shopping
  • Birthday presents for their child
  • College tuition

It’s true, especially if you have school-age children, that you might be unable to get away from spending money. But you can decide on how the spending will affect your budget and bank accounts.

Do: Set a budget/make a plan

Before you start spending, decide how much you can afford as you get ready for the upcoming school year. You don’t want to splurge on an expensive laptop and end up blowing your backpack budget. If you think you will be unable to keep yourself on track, download an app to monitor your spending for you.

Don’t: Pay full price

There’s nothing wrong with comparing prices. KSLA News 12 went shopping school supplies at three different stores. Click here to find out how they compare.

Do: Use coupons and money-saving apps/websites

Do: Shop sales tax holidays

One of the best times to buy school supplies is during back-to-school sales tax holidays. Texas will hold its sales tax holiday Aug. 9-11. You can buy most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks (sold for less than $100 per item) tax free from a Texas store or from an online or catalog seller doing business in Texas.

Do: Use student discounts

Take advantage of student discounts on clothing, electronics and more. Most promotions require a valid student ID.

Don’t: Limit yourself

Before you head to the office supply store, consider less obvious places to shop. Your local drugstore, grocery store and dollar store will be stocked with plenty of affordable school supplies.

Do: Sign up for store emails

Many stores send out a weekly list of what’s on sale, and most even throw in a coupon. And if you’re really tired of sifting through your personal email for all those deals, you might try creating a separate email address just for this purpose.

Do: Buy used or even refurbished items

Electronics can be super expensive. And with technology becoming more important in the school curriculum, it’s becoming a purchase that you just can’t escape. Make sure to check sites like eBay and Amazon. Check out Apple, Dell and other major companies for their refurbished deals.

Remember, good planning is one of the keys to avoiding debt; so stick to your list and your budget.

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