Back to school can be very expensive, especially if you have more than one child ready to start classes. In fact, the average family with kids in grades K-12 will spend an average of more than $625 just to get the items they need! That really can hit the budget hard.
There are things you can do to save on your Back to School shopping. We’ve got ten tips anyone can use, no matter where you live, to lower your spending.
HOW TO SAVE MONEY ON BACK TO SCHOOL SHOPPING
1. Follow Penny Pinchin’ Mom!
Once again, my team and I are helping you get the items you need, at the lowest possible. Each July, we go to work finding the deals and sharing them with you.
The most popular feature on the site is our FREE interactive supplies database. You type in the product you need to find, and we show you this week’s prices (including any coupons) from National stores (like Target, Walmart, Walgreens, etc.). This way, you can compare prices at home. It is also helpful to know what things cost before you head out!
2. Shop at home first
Before you head out, take inventory of what you have on hand. One great thing to check is backpacks. These tend to be some of the most expensive items, so you may want your kids to start the year out with the one they used last year. Then, when they drop in price and begin to move to clearance prices (in mid-September), go and get one.
Also look through your child’s closet. Most kids will wear shorts and tees when school starts. See if the items they already own will work for a few weeks and then when you see those summer clothes discounts pop up stock up! You will also want to make a list of the clothes they need, so you don’t forget!!
I also recommend seeing if you can use last year’s supplies. If they had a scissors, they can use it again. The pencil box may just need to be cleaned up, but it could be used again this year. Track down the manual pencil sharpener (empty the shavings of course) and then you’ve got that done. Right there, you can find three items to mark off of your list – and they cost you absolutely NOTHING!
3. Follow the sales (also called loss leaders)
No rule says you have to do all of your shopping in a single day. If you see the pencils you need on sale this week at your local store, pick them up. Then, grab the crayons next week when you find a hot deal. Keep a list of the items you buy, and then, when it is time to hit the store for your final shopping trip, you will only have to grab those few things you need, which may have not ever really gone on sale.
These items that are really low in price are what are called loss leaders. These are items which retailers know they will make no money, but they are used to get people into the store to do more shopping. Just grab those items each week and avoid the rest of the other store deals.
4. Use those coupons
Back to school season is the time of year retailers tend to release a lot of coupons. This can make the price of jeans for kids drop to as much as 60% off of retail. You can find uniform essentials as low as $5 – $6 each. When you see those coupons, grab those pieces you need!
You can also find coupons for the supplies you need for your kids. It is common to find Target Cartwheel offers that you can combine with manufacturer’s coupons for even great savings.
5. Shop the Sale Tax Holiday
Each summer, certain states suspend the collection of sales tax on school supplies, clothes, and even electronics. Shopping during these weekends can easily save you money. Find out your state’s sales tax holiday and requirements so you can plan your shopping trip accordingly.
6. Share packaging
I have three kids. They all need pencils. Rather than get them each their own set of 10, I can often find a better deal if I pick a 30 count instead. We then open and rubberband the number each of them needs to add to their supplies for their classroom. We find that doing this is often much more cost effective than getting them each their own item.
7. Use Ebates
While your local stores may have discounts, sometimes there are better deals online. And, when you shop through a site such as Ebates, you will not only find coupon codes and offers, but you will get paid to shop! Ebates pays shoppers a percentage of each sale back in the form of cash! You can’t beat getting paid to shop.
Sign up with Ebates right now and find out how you can get a $10 bonus!!
8. Price match
Many stores price match, including Target and Walmart. This year, even Staples offers a 110% price match guarantee. When you can put this to work for you, it means you can shop at one store and get all of the deals you will find at other stores!!
Just make sure you know how the price matching works at each location before you shop (no need to have surprises when you get there).
9. Use apps
Check out apps such as Ibotta and Checkout51. You can often find a way to get a “double dip” on a deal. That means you may find the same discount on both Checkout51 and Ibotta, so you can submit your receipt to both and get double the cash back!
10. Use gift card sites
You can find discounts on gift cards at sites such Gift Card Granny. You can purchase regular value cards at a discount. Sometimes you can find them up to 20% off or more!! Then, use the gift cards for all of your school shopping.
11. Consider refurbished electronics
This is a great way to get a new computer or tablet for your kids for school – without paying too much. Refurbished often gets a bad rap as people think it means used. It merely means that it was purchased and returned.
Once the box is opened, stores cannot sell the item as new and must discount it for resale. You can find amazing deals in the Amazon Warehouse!
11. Get your kids involved
Kids don’t often realize how much items cost. Set a budget for them, so they know how much you will pay for things, such as shoes.
If you can afford to pay just $50 for a new pair of tennis shoes, let your child know that they can get what they want, but they need to cover the additional cost. So, if they want that $75 pair, that means $25 comes out of their own pocket. That makes them think before they shop and have to part with their own hard earned money.
12. Know your budget
Before you head out to shop, know how much you have available to spend and take only cash. When you use cash, you won’t be able to overspend and will always stay on budget.
13. Shop after the sales end
While you can often find great deals in July and August, sometimes, you can find better deals if you wait until after school starts. For example, notebooks sell for around $0.18 – $0.20 at Target during August. In mid to late September, then you’ll find them priced at $0.10 or less!
Go ahead and buy the few things your child needs to start the school year and then stock up on others in September. That way, you will have supplies to replace those that run out in January, and can even get a head start on the next year’s back to school list.
14. Don’t forget the consignment stores and thrift shops
All too often, parents rush to the big box stores to find clothes and backpacks for their kids. However, consignment stores and thrift shops often have clothes that are in great shape, at a fraction of the cost. Just know how to make sure you get the best deal when shopping at your local consignment store.
School shopping doesn’t need to break the bank. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll get the kids back to school on the budget you need.