How to Save Money on Back-to-School Shopping this Year
In 2015, back-to-school spending is expected to reach $68 billion in sales, with an average of $97.74 per family spent on school supplies such as backpacks, notebooks and pens, according to the National Retail Federation. This figure does not include the cost of new clothing, electronic devices or furniture for a dorm room (that number is well over $600 for children in grades K-12 and close to $900 for college students).
However, these are averages. There are plenty of savvy shoppers out there who are spending a fraction of the cost of other shoppers.
Here are 10 ways to save money on back-to-school shopping this year.
1. Set a budget
First, you have to set a budget when it comes to back-to-school shopping. It’s way too easy to go overboard and overspend, especially when your kids are with you begging for all the new items. Decide beforehand how much you can afford to spend per child and base your purchases around that amount.
2. Look for things you already have
Pens, pencils, notebooks, tissues, glue, hand sanitizer and more could all be lying around your house not being used. Search through your own home for items on your child’s back-to-school list before heading to the stores.
3. Shop the clearance rack
When purchasing back-to-school clothing, always shop the clearance rack. Towards the end of summer, summer clothes are marked down tremendously, but it’s still hot outside.
4. Shop a year in advance
Another good habit to get into is to shop one year in advance for next year’s clothes. You can purchase basic shirts, shorts and tanks in a size larger at the end of this summer (on clearance) to use next summer. By doing this, you’ll stay one step ahead of the season and save big time on clothing for your kids.
5. Shop dollar stores and grocery stores
Grocery stores tend to mark down their back-to-school supplies every six weeks, just as they do with their other items. Watch for sales and go back-to-school shopping at the same time you go grocery shopping, which also saves on gas.
6. Buy plain items then let your kids decorate them
Solid-colored folders and notebooks are always significantly cheaper than fancier ones with characters on them. This year, buy the plain items but make it fun for your kids by telling them they can color on them and personalize them when they get home.
7. Watch for sales and shop slowly
You don’t have to purchase all of your back-to-school supplies on the same day from the same store. Most schools send home their list of supplies on the last day of school, meaning you have all summer to find the best deals at a variety of different stores.
8. Shop thrift stores and garage sales
While you may not be able to score notebooks and pens at a garage sale, you can definitely find backpacks, clothing, shoes and other back-to-school necessities. Children’s thrift stores are also great for finding discounted clothing and backpacks.
9. Buy in bulk
If you have multiple children, you can purchase pens, pencils, erasers, notebooks, paper and similar items in bulk at Costco or Amazon. While you’ll have to spend more now, you’ll save a decent amount of money on next years’ school supplies (and the year after that!).
10. Take advantage of the tax holiday
Certain states offer a sales tax holiday where shoppers can avoid paying sales tax. Most take place between the first and third week of August, allowing shoppers to save on clothing, school supplies, books and computers. For a complete list of participating states and what items can be purchased tax-free, click here.
By taking advantage of some (or all!) of these 10 tips, you are certain to save money on back-to-school shopping this year.