Four Biggest Mistakes Consumers Make when Back-to-School Shopping

When budgeting, consumers need to be sure to account for months where expenses are expected to increase. One of these times of the year is during August for people with kids, as back-to-school shopping season gets under way.

Buying school supplies and new outfits for children doesn’t have to lead to financial trouble, and avoiding these mistakes can help make this month a success.

Mistake No. 1 – Failing to create a budget

The first step any parent needs to take before leaving their house is to establish how much money they are able to spend on clothes and school supplies. Failing to do this can lead to overspending, which may result in people falling short for other expenses. That being said, it is important for consumers to examine their expenses so they are able to know exactly how much money they can spend without going over budget.

Mistake No. 2 – Not strategically picking a credit card to use

Often, parents will make back-to-school purchases on their credit card, but if they don’t choose the right one this can lead to financial trouble down the road. For instance, the best card to use is sometimes the one with the lowest interest rate. It would also be smart to buy items with plastic that offers cash back rewards. Even consumers who believe they will be able to pay the balance in full should avoid buying their children’s supplies with a high-interest credit card, as there are numerous things that could happen that can lead to them being forced to carry the balance and incur a lot of interest.

Mistake No. 3 – Not shopping online

When back-to-school shopping, many parents still choose the traditional route and go to physical stores, but this could be costing them money. Instead, consumers should stay in the comfort of their homes and shop online. Oftentimes, retailers offer discount codes during the months leading up to the new school year, and these aren’t always available in stores. Additionally, free shipping is a staple of the back-to-school months, so there is no reason to head to the physical store.

Mistake No. 4 – Not buying on-sale items for the future

As the school year approaches, many retailers begin to discount items to get them off the shelves. At this time, parents should take full advantage and stock up for next year. Folders, notebooks and pencils don’t go bad, so buying them at a steep discount could be a great money saver.

April Lewis-Parks has more than 15 years of experience in the financial sector; she is a certified financial counselor, and a consumer affairs advocate. As the director of education and public relations for Consolidated Credit she is dedicated to generating awareness about personal finance issues and acts as their consumer affairs advocate. As host of, she promotes financial education and offers timely and informative personal finance articles to educate the public. April’s promotional efforts can be seen in past issues of the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsday, Consumer Reports, the Business Journals, Money Magazine, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Family Circle, among others. Connect with April on Google+