9 ways to save on back-to-school shopping

Aug 11, 2018 | Education

Did you know the average family spends almost $700 per year on back-to-school shopping? With a little planning and creativity, you can buy everything your kids need to be cool at school without breaking the bank. Here are 9 ways to save on back-to-school shopping.

1. Take stock of what you already have

Before heading out to any stores, go through the clothing and supplies you already have. Have a mini fashion show to see what clothes still fit and what needs to be replaced. Then, search their backpacks and bedrooms to find any supplies left over from last year that are in good enough shape to be used again.

2. Stick to the list

The teacher’s supply list already has more than enough items to drive you crazy. Don’t waste time and money shopping for anything that didn’t make the cut. Compare the teacher’s list to the reusable items you already have and avoid buying more than what is necessary. (For the record, that extra sparkly pencil case is very necessary.)

3. Focus on big-ticket items

You can find great deals on pencils, folders and glue at a lot of retailers. Plan your shopping around the best prices on computers, graphing calculators, backpacks and other expensive items on your list. Planning around these items will help you save the most cash and take the fewest number of trips.

4. Buy in bulk

Notebooks won’t cost $0.15 forever. Take advantage of the big school supply sales while you still can. Think ahead on what items you’ll need later and stock up now. Buying in bulk during back to school season offers big savings compared to picking up individual items later.

5. Follow your favorite stores

Retailers go crazy with back-to-school sales from mid-July through the end of August. Follow your children’s favorites on Facebook and Twitter, and join their email list for coupons and advance notice of big upcoming sales. And sign up for any and all rewards programs to maximize savings.

6. Get crafty

Don’t pay a premium on fancy decorative folders, notebooks and binders. Instead, buy a few stickers and use art supplies from around the house to decorate them. You’ll save money and your child will have fun, unique supplies that will stand out when the school year starts.

7. Free money

Once you know where you’re going to shop, look for discounted gift cards on sites like giftcards.com and cardcash.com. You can buy gift cards for as much as 35% off the original price, and turn other people’s unredeemed cards into your back-to-school savings.

8. Supply & clothing swaps

Round up a couple other parents with kids around the same age as yours and host an annual clothes and supply swap. Clothing swaps work best if your children attend the same school and wear uniforms, but even if not, you can still help each other and get gently-worn clothes for free.

9. Make it a learning experience

Get your kids in on the savings. Back-to-school shopping is the perfect time to teach them about budgets. Give them a clothing budget and a list of what they need and help them plan what to buy and where to buy it. Let them choose one or two specialty items, then stick to the budget-friendly options to fill out the rest of the shopping list.

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