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Handle back-to-school shopping with less chaos during summer

There is nothing quite as wonderful as summer. Family vacations, summer camps and a slower pace of life. After the laid-back pace of summer, back-to-school shopping can often be an...

There is nothing quite as wonderful as summer. Family vacations, summer camps and a slower pace of life. After the laid-back pace of summer, back-to-school shopping can often be an expensive and hectic finish to the season.

Deal expert and blogger, Allison Silverstein, outlines five ways to keep your cool when shopping for back to school.

Start early

While nobody wants to think about school in July, keeping one eye out for back-to-school deals can save you time and money in the long run. It's not uncommon for families enjoying their summer to avoid shopping for back to school until the last minute. Yet delaying the inevitable can lead to purchasing decisions made quickly and without considering a lot of options, which may not be the most cost-effective strategy. When it comes to saving money, time is on your side. Rather than cramming all of your shopping into one chaotic trip to multiple stores just before the first day of class, do it bit by bit, taking advantage of deals whenever and wherever they may be. Allow yourself time to find what's right for your family, and you won't be as susceptible to making irrational decisions based on a ticking clock.

Remember to shop online

Finding the perfect deal is made easier with more options, and for those who shop online, the choices are endless. A rapidly growing alternative to browsing brick and mortar stores, shopping online gives you access to thousands of deals with the click of a mouse. That's the good news. The bad? Finding the deal for you. Helping shoppers find the best deals without the ensuing headache are sites like Ebates.com. Ebates is a cash-back site that lists and categorizes thousands of offers from both big box and smaller retailers. In addition to streamlining the search process, Ebates pays its members to shop at more than 1,600 online retailers, making it one of the largest reward programs online. Families shopping for school supplies and clothing will receive cash back from their spending.

Budget all nonessentials

Children of all ages want to look their best, and wearing what's trendy can be just as important to a 6 year old as it is to a 16 year old. It's no secret that popular items can have the biggest price tag, and with trends here one day and gone another, keeping up can be costly. Parents looking to indulge their budding fashionista without breaking the bank should set a spending limit for trendy items. Wardrobe staples like denim, shoes and a backpack should be purchased first, with any remaining budget allocated to buying trendy items. By setting a budget for what's 'fun' children will be able to see how quickly buying what's cool can diminish their budget.

Subscribe

With no shortage of retailers vying for your business, brands are constantly looking for ways to encourage customer loyalty. For shoppers who have devoted themselves to one or several stores, reaping the benefits of brand loyalty is a must. By subscribing to your favorite store's newsletter, you'll be kept in the loop regarding sales, discounts, and even when items previously added to your cart are about to sell out. Sites like Ebates.com offer several newsletter subscriptions, keeping members up to date on extra cash-back offers and much more. Delivered daily to your inbox, staying informed is as easy as opening an email.

Smart shopping has no expiration date

Perhaps the most important tip of them all, there's always a next time. Becoming a savvy shopper takes practice, and not every purchase will be your best. By remembering to purchase what you need when you need it, you'll keep more of your money where it belongs: in your wallet.

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