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Posted by on Jul 21, 2014 in Back To School | 2 comments

The Secret to Saving on Back to School Shopping

Back to School shopping can be overwhelming and expensive. But it doesn’t have to be.

The secret to saving on back to school shopping is simple:  Have a plan. You’ll save time, beat the rush, and save money, too.

Here’s how to do it:

back-to-school-supplies-shopping

Take an inventory

Start with school supplies. Even if you didn’t stockpile school supplies from last year, you probably still have a stash of pens, pencils, crayons and markers scattered throughout the house. Gather all of these supplies in one location.

Next, find your children’s school supply lists. Figure out what you already have in your stash of school supplies, then you can cross those items right off your shopping list! Remember, kids don’t always need brand new school supplies. If last year’s scissors are in good working order, then there’s no need to waste money buying new ones. The same thing goes for backpacks, pencil boxes, and rulers.

Go through your kids’ clothing. Now is the time to go through drawers and closets to see what’s worn out, what doesn’t fit, and what’s no longer fit to to be worn in public. Sort out what clothing will be passed on to younger siblings, what you can donate, and what you may be able to sell on consignment or at a garage sale. Make sure you pay attention to their socks, underwear, jackets and shoes. These are things you don’t want to find out don’t fit on the first day of school.

Make a shopping list

Once you’ve done your inventory,  it’s time to make your shopping list.

Combine all of your kids’ school supply needs into one master list. This allows you to buy items in bulk. For example, instead of buying a certain number of glue sticks for each kid, buy one large pack and divide them up. The same goes for buying Kleenex or disinfecting wipes. Buying in bulk means you’ll get a better price.

Make a list of any clothing or shoes your children will need for the new school year. Write down the sizes they wear and even favorite colors in case you find a great deal when they aren’t with you. Be sure to include any special outfit needs (like black dress pants for a music program or gym clothes).

Keep your list with you at all times – in a notebook or by using an app on your phone like Evernote. If you’ve always got the list with you, you’ll be ready for sales, unexpected garage sale finds, and thrift shop bargains. If you’ve got the list, you’ll be less likely to make expensive impulse purchases.

Set a budget

Your detailed shopping list will help you estimate what you’ll need to save for back to school shopping. Start setting aside a little bit of money each week leading up to the back to school shopping season so that you’re ready.

Try to budget a little extra money to go shopping a week or two after school starts.  Retailers are anxious to move the school supplies out for the fall holidays, so you’ll find deep discounts on notebooks, binders, and more.  This is a good time to stock up for next year!

It can be hard to find the money for school supplies, but if you’re able to set aside money you make from hosting a yard sale or couponing, you’ll see that every little bit of money can add up.

Shop smart

Stock up on kids’ snacks and drinks during the summer months. Snack and drinks tend to go on sale during the summer months because the kids are home from school and people host more gatherings. Use any coupons you find to get some good deals for school lunches and classroom snacks.

Watch the sales. The end-of-the-summer season clearance starts just before the back to school sales. Watch for clothing closeouts and stock up on wardrobe staples like shirts, shorts, and skirts. Thrift shops and consignment shops will also have sales, and be sure to keep your eyes open for garage sales that advertise kids’ clothing.

Shop around. You don’t have to buy your school supplies at the usual big-box stores. Some office supply stores like OfficeMax or Staples have great deals, too. Drugstores like Walgreens and CVS can also have great deals on school supplies, as does your local dollar store. You can even find deals on school supplies online at places like Amazon.

Use coupons. Look for coupons on everything from school supplies to clothing to help you save money. The money-saving Favado app will help you find coupons for school supplies and items like hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.

Shop regularly. Don’t wait until a couple of weeks before school starts. Shop early and often to find the best bargains. Just cross the deals off your shopping list when you find them.

Be prepared

It’s tempting to wait until the last minute to think about back to school shopping, but don’t. By having a back to school shopping plan, you’ll have everything you need – including money left in your wallet!

Christina Brown is a Savings.com DealPro and founder of savings blog, NorthernCheapskate.com. Her mission is to help others take control of their finances through coupons, freebies and money-saving ideas.

2 Comments

  1. Wow! Thank u!

  2. thank you Very practical and helpful!

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