(BPT)—As summer winds down, many are heading into a busy buying season with Labor Day soirees and preparing for back-to-school. With the average family expected to spend an average of $634.78 on back-to-school shopping this year, according to the National Retail Federation, consumers are seeking cost saving strategies to ensure they are getting the most bang for the buck.
With more access to information thanks to online resources and smartphones, the power is in purchasers' hands. In fact, the National Retail Federation forecast revealed that approximately 36 percent of shoppers will do more comparative shopping online for back-to-school 2013.
Other ways people are cashing in on the savings is going back to the tried and true - bulk shopping. Expert couponer, Kelly Snyder, of Kansas City Mamas says volume buying and storing goods correctly has made a positive impact on her family's finances. However, one important thing to keep in mind is what to do with all those purchases you bring home.
"The right storage is essential when purchasing in bulk," says Snyder. "Make sure you have enough storage space and invest in products and appliances that keep you organized and help preserve the integrity of your purchases."
Snyder points to refrigerators as a key investment piece for savvy shoppers who want to store large amounts of perishables. Snyder along with fellow top savings bloggers Briana Carter, of Bargain Briana, and Lauren Ortiz of Saving Addiction, offer their top tips to help shoppers best navigate through the sea of savings.
• Don't bypass a budget. Know how much you've spent in order to see your savings. By keeping a monthly budget, you'll never pay too much.
• Don't create a storage war. Being organized will help keep track of what you have and prevent wasting food or needless purchases. For perishables, dedicate one shelf each in your refrigerator for beverages, produce and leftovers. A large refrigerator with large freezer capacity, allows you to stock up on items on sale.
• Get rewarded for loyalty. Join loyalty programs of establishments you frequent the most. Eventually your purchasing power will return major perks. For example, Shop Your Way, a free membership and shopping community, allows Kmart and Sears customers to earn points for their purchases to redeem online or in store. In addition, members get alerts on special offerings, personalized deals, product reviews, events and sweepstakes for even more savings.
• Tracking gets you a treat. Create a price book to record costs for items over a six-week period. Make a purchase only when prices hit their low. You'll optimize savings and often won't need a coupon.
• Increase your buying IQ with a smartphone. Download money-saving and grocery coupon apps like SavingStar and Coupons.com, as well as apps for rewards programs like Shop Your Way.
• Remember coupons are king. While many still enjoy clipping paper coupons, downloadable eCoupons are more popular than ever. Now, eCoupons are more sophisticated by pushing savings based on style and shopping habits like those from ShopYourWay.com. Sears is the first retailer to offer eCoupons that are redeemable in-store, online and from a mobile device. This will not only save money, but save time too.
• Go generic or store brands. It's always better to go with a store brand if you don't have a coupon for a name-brand item. While these versions are cheaper, they often offer similar quality.
• Serve what's on sale. Buying sale items in bulk allows you to pre-cook meals in one day to be served over the week.
Sources: ShopYourWay.com, Kenmore.com, Cookmore.com
Published with permission from RISMedia.