Back-to-school shopping is an annual ritual that millions of parents participate in each year. In fact, back-to-school time is one of the biggest shopping seasons of the year, second only to the winter holidays. Last year, Americans spent more than $54 billion on supplies, clothes and electronics for school and college-age kids, according to the National Retail Federation, with jeans, backpacks and electronics as some of the most popular back-to-school products.
Getting what students need and keeping the costs reasonable calls for some smart shopping strategies. The easiest place to start is at your computer. These tips will help you study the online possibilities and earn some A+ deals.
Add Up Extra Savings
Before you start hunting down everything on the must-have list, check for printable coupons or online coupon codes on Web sites such as:
Couponcabin.com: The site is updated several times a day, and you can sign up to get a weekly newsletter alerting you to new deals.
Retailmenot.com: Get helpful feedback from users on what coupon codes worked and which ones didn’t.
Smartsource.com: Entering your zip code lets you find deals specific to your area.
Be on the lookout for free shipping offers on these sites, as well. If you’re not careful, shipping costs can negate any savings you may have found.
Do Your Homework
You might find a great deal on a backpack or computer, but is the cost savings really worth a possible trade off in quality? Find out how products stack up to real world use at sites such as Epinions.com, where users share their product experience. At ConsumerSearch.com, there are expert and user reviews shown side by side for each product. A little research can save you time, hassle and money down the road.
Get the Latest Scoop
If you know exactly what you want to buy, sign up for notifications from Craigslist.com and eBay.com. Both sites will notify you of new listings matching your search criteria — so when someone wants to sell that Juicy Couture jacket you’re looking for, you’ll know right away.
If you need help deciding how to get the best product for your money, look at online buying guides. Not sure which laptop to get? Need help figuring out what kind of backpack or desk chair to get? Check out a mix of user and professional reviews at Bing.com/shopping or read Overstock.com buying guides — there are helpful tips on what to look for and how to make a smart choice.
Another way to stay in the loop on savings is to sign up for retail newsletters and emails. You can also check online retailer sites for RSS feeds that automatically send you updates on promotions as they occur. A well-timed update on a new sale lets you get in on the savings early.
Get Cash Back
A growing trend in smart online shopping is participation in programs that give you cash back. Web sites such as Bing.com have partnerships with major retailers to offer items at great prices. Registered users shop for name brand items and
when purchases are made through the site, they automatically get a percentage of the purchase price back as a cash rebate. More details on how this works can be found at bing.com/shopping/pages/howtouse.aspx.
The amounts, which change daily, can be sent via check to your address or deposited into a bank account or PayPal account, and after a 60-day waiting period, the money is yours.
“This is a great way to save money on school supplies,” said Bridget Tate, Bing Shopping product manager. “When you look at how much back-to-school items such as laptops, clothes, backpacks and tech gadgets can cost, that 5 or 10 percent really helps.” During back-to-school season, adds Tate, Bing Shopping will be offering even higher percentages of cash back (up to 50 percent more).
Getting the kids ready for school again doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Smart shopping will send them off in style and leave you with a smile.
To learn more about how to be a smart online shopper and get cash back this back-to-school season, visit Bing.com/shopping.
Shopping That Pays You Back
Shopping with the following merchants through Bing.com could give you savings like these:
Back to School Gear and Gadgets
OfficeMax.com, 3 to 5%
Back to School Fashion
Sears.com, 2 to 8%
Old Navy, 4%
Foot Locker, 20%