The back-to-school shopping season doesn’t need to break the bank. Here are 15 tips for saving big on back to school items.
Do you have kids heading back to school in the next couple of weeks? Are you starting to stress about what all of that back-to-school shopping is going to do to your budget? Try not to worry too hard because there are some great ways to save on everything your kids will need to start the new school year off on the right foot.
Before you hit the stores, check out our shopping tips!
15 Tips for Saving Big on Back-to-School Shopping
Load up your phone with apps
I have so many money-saving apps on my phone right now, including Ibotta, Checkout51, and the Target Cartwheel App, that sometimes it can be hard to keep track of where and how I can save money. Not that I’m complaining. Money saved is… money saved. 😉
Seriously, start shopping Amazon right now. They will periodically have super low prices on things that you need for school, so when you see these items, make sure you order. Sure you might be ordering just one thing at a time, but if you are an Amazon Prime member shipping is free and you are not having to drive all over to shop.
When we think about back-to-school shopping, we, of course, think about things like cool lunch boxes. Another fee that will likely add up during the school year is all of the items you’ll need to pack in those lunch boxes. I highly (HIGHLY) recommend Amazon Subscribe and Save, as you’ll be able to get the items that you routinely use delivered monthly for less.
Tip: If you have any college-aged children in your family, they can join Prime Student to receive FREE Two-Day Shipping, which is awesome for college students! Prime Student costs just $49 per year – a 50 percent savings over a typical Prime subscription.
Clean out the closets
Go through the clothes the kids already have and figure out what still fits and is in good shape. You may find that you have more than you realized, which means you wonâ€™t have to buy as much.
Supplement what they already have
While it can be tempting to buy kids a whole new wardrobe each school year because things are so dang cute, shop for wardrobe pieces instead. After going through their closets, make a specific list of what they need (for instance, new jeans) and just stick to those items.
Shop thrift stores
Second-hand shopping doesnâ€™t mean that you are buying someone else’s junk. Check out high-end thrift stores such as Platoâ€™s Closet or Once Upon a Child, or check out online thrift stores like ThredUp to shop for what you need. These stores are picky about what they buy and only purchase the latest fashions and high-quality name brands.
Scour your neighborhood yard sales
Since moving out to the suburbs I have become somewhat obsessed with yard sales, likely because there seem to be new community yard sales every single weekend! Yard sales can be great for picking up children’s clothing and the prices will be extremely affordable. Just be sure you don’t buy more than you need.
Tip: Some yard sales are virtual now! Check Facebook to see if there’s a virtual yard sale group for your neighborhood and/or community. I’ve joined a few in my new town and have found them to be great for both buying and selling!
Set a budget
It is easy to go over your budget when you are shopping for your kids. Make sure to set a budget and stick to it this year. Do you want to make things more fun for your kids? Let them in on the budget and challenge them to get the items they need for less than what you have to spend. It doesn’t hurt to start teaching kids how to save money early!
Check out your local dollar store
I am not a huge dollar store fan for all things, but you can save big on some back-to-school supplies at the dollar store! Did you know that you can even shop DollarTree online? Everything they sell costs just a buck, so you can compare their prices on school supplies to wherever you normally shop. Chances are, you’ll find some things cheaper at DollarTree, even with all of the crazy back-to-school sales!
Shop on sales tax holidays
If you live in a state that has a sales tax, take advantage of those sales tax holidays to do as much shopping as possible without paying extra money in taxes. Here’s a handy guide listing each state’s sales tax holidays.
Become a sales fiend
Leading up to back to school, retailers offer lots of steep discounts on school supplies. Maybe it will be a $0.10 spiral notebook or a $0.01 pack of pencils. Check out the various retailers in your area and watch for these sales and then work them into your weekly shopping trips. Keep in mind that a $0.10 deal isnâ€™t really a deal if you have to pay a bunch extra for gas to get to it!
Buy in bulk
Buying in bulk serves two purposes. First, you will get a better per-unit deal on the item. Second, if you buy enough, you will find yourself with an excess throughout the year, meaning no mid-year school supply shopping. Alternatively, you can always donate any additional items your child doesn’t need to his or her classroom. My children aren’t yet in school, but I’ve seen lots of talk about parents buying extra to help teachers out since the purchase of supplies often come out of a teacher’s paycheck.
This should go without saying, but use coupons for anything and everything you can! As the school year approaches, you will see more coupons for school supplies, and many clothing stores also offer coupons. If you’re not sure if a coupon is available, my recommendation is to check out RetailMeNot.com. They always have the latest info on savings!
Sign up for texts and emails
Many retailers offer exclusive text coupons to customers who sign up for their texts and/or email newsletters. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of text deals, but I have a junk email account that I set up specifically for registering for newsletters!
Shop the outlets
I recently bought a pair of $80 Nike tennis shoes for just $23 at the Nike outlet store! Outlet malls can be dangerous though because those low prices might make you feel like you can spend more. Stay true to your budget, even when the prices are crazy low!
Stock up during the off-season
Despite all of the coupons and sales that are available right now for back-to-school clothing, the cheapest time to shop is actually at the end of a season, when stores need to clear their shelves for new goods. Of course, that might be a hard sell to your child who wants to wear the latest fashions, but shopping during the off-season can be a great way to save on basic items that never go out of style.
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Do Tell: What other tips do you have for saving big on back-to-school shopping?