August is here, and families across the country are taking advantage of
tax-free holidays to get a head start on their back-to-school shopping.
Soon the kids will be bringing home another “must have” list from each
of their teachers -- markers, pens, paper, notebooks, calculators, and
of course, that essential outfit of the season. With back-to-school
purchases adding to existing gas, grocery and other non-discretionary
expenses, the family budget often feels a real pinch.
According to Uniroyal Tire and savings expert Stephanie Nelson, saving money at this time of year can be as easy as 1-2-3 by implementing just a few smart-shopping tips.
“Families this year will spend nearly $530 on back-to-school supplies alone,” says Nelson. “In addition to supplies and clothing, the return of the school year often means an increase in commuting to and from school and extracurricular activities. To maximize overall back-to-school savings potential, I have partnered with Uniroyal Tire to recommend the following tips for saving money on fuel and shopping expenses.”
1- Save Money on Gas:
“High gas prices have families looking for ways to save money in other areas, but they shouldn’t have to choose between fuel for their cars and other important items,” Nelson says. “By following these tips from Uniroyal, families can get much more mileage for their money.”
* Check the inflation pressure of your tires. Research conducted by
Uniroyal found that most Americans are driving around on under-inflated
tires. You need to check your tire inflation pressure “cold” once a
month and adjust accordingly. The proper inflation pressure can be
found in the vehicle’s owner’s manual or on the placard usually located
inside the doorjamb. The pressure indicated on the tire sidewall is the
maximum pressure allowed, not what is recommended for your vehicle.
This simple step can save up to nine cents per gallon.
* Maintain proper wheel alignment. Making sure your vehicle is properly aligned can save as much as 15 cents per gallon. Your local Uniroyal dealer can assess your vehicle’s wheel alignment.
* Replace clogged air filters. This is a biggie! A clean filter versus one that is severely clogged can mean savings as much as 31 cents per gallon. Air filters also keep impurities in the air from damaging internal engine components.
With your vehicle now running in cost-cutting mode, it’s time to save money on your shopping trip. Nelson offers the following advice for saving on school supplies and clothes.
2- Save Money on Supplies:
* Start early – Nelson recommends shopping early to purchase those predictable school supplies that you know will be on the list.
o School supplies typically sell at 50 to 75 percent off regular prices before the official back-to-school shopping season commences. Pick up a few items as you can and watch for sales.
* Shop smart –
o If you don’t find a great sales price on needed items early, take advantage of tax free holidays. Fourteen states and the District of Columbia are holding tax free holidays this year.
o Buy in bulk. Membership clubs such as Sam’s Club, or BJ’s Wholesale Club offer low membership fees and allow you to stock up on back-to-school essentials and even a few extras your kids don’t expect to find in their lunchboxes. In addition, many membership clubs include gas stations, which frequently offer lower gas prices than the stations across the street.
o Before you leave home, check out store advertising circulars for the best deals and take the circulars with you. Nelson advises families to use the circulars as part of a “price matching” strategy. Rather than going to several stores to get the lowest prices, Nelson recommends asking your store if they price match. Stores will often match a competitor’s advertised price when a customer shows the lower advertised price in a sales circular. In addition, you’ve saved gas money by not driving all over town!
* Look for new ways to save – Circulars are not the only way to save. A little creativity and initiative can add up in the long run.
o When shopping for big-ticket items such as computers, ask about purchasing the demos and display products. Store display merchandise may have minor blemishes, but often come with the same warranties and greater savings than the same items when new.
3- Save Money on Clothing:
* Getting the latest back-to-school look – Most children, of course, are more concerned about how they look than getting the right color folders. Nelson urges families to avoid overbuying.
o Plan ahead by making a list with your children before hitting the mall.
o Review sales circulars and research Web sites for the stores and shopping centers for sales notices and downloadable coupons. If some of your child’s back-to-school
wardrobe can wait a few weeks into the school year, Nelson suggests waiting to take advantage of further markdowns that come later in the season.
o If they are still in good condition, consider selling last year’s school clothes or taking them to a local consignment store. Use this extra cash to purchase new items. Examples of these stores can be found online: www.platoscloset.com, www.satruck.com, www.narts.com.
o Shop online and visit shoe store Web sites to sign up for email newsletters; you’ll likely receive coupons via email for both the store and online shopping. Browse these sites for printable coupons and Web sites offering free shipping for purchases and returns, as well as lowest-price guarantees.
Uniroyal and Nelson will offer additional money-saving advice throughout the year as part of the Uniroyal “More Mileage for your Money” campaign. “This campaign is a logical extension of Uniroyal’s mission to provide good quality, affordable tires to American drivers,” said Kaz Holley, Uniroyal® brand director.
During the “More Mileage for your Money” campaign, Nelson will travel across the country educating consumers on easy ways they can save money throughout every season of the year. More tips and advice on gas savings can be found on www.uniroyal.com, and Nelson’s Uniroyal-sponsored Web site, www.couponmom.com, which provides free assistance to families on grocery savings.