The school year may seem like it lasts forever, but the time from when it closes for the summer and reopens is as quick as the blink of an eye. Before you’ve had a chance to enjoy summer properly, you’re jumping back into the thick of things. And before you know it, it’s time to go school shopping again.
Do you ever feel financially ready? Studies show that parents spend $500 or more on school supplies each year. Well, consider yourself prepared this year because here are 10 ways to save money on back-to-school shopping.
1. Make a List
Before buying a single supply, determine what your child needs. Consult with your child’s teachers to know exactly what it is they will need throughout the school year, then create the list. Add to the list anything outside of their basic school supplies that you know they’ll need, like clothing, shoes, etc. Prioritize the list, putting the most important items on top. Don’t embellish or add to the list.
2. Determine What You Already Have
Based on your newly devised list, determine what they already have at home. Sometimes, not all school supplies from the previous year get used. Determine the supplies on your list that you already have and start deducting them from your list accordingly.
3. Start With a Budget and Stay Focused
Based on your final list, create a budget for your back-to-school shopping. Your goal is to stay within your budget for back-to-school items. The key to not going over budget is to stay focused on the list and not veer away from it.
4. Shop Randomly
Try not to wait until the last minute to buy everything your child needs for returning to school. Keep your list close so you can randomly shop here and there, buying items throughout the summer. This will make it easier on your budget.
5. Take Advantage of Tax Holidays
If your state has a sales tax holiday, take advantage of it. Make it your business to know when it will take place so you can be ready to shop. If you’re spreading the shopping out, make sure the more expensive items are bought during this time so you won’t have to pay taxes on them.
6. Use Your Cash Back Card
Check your credit cards (hopefully, you don’t have too many) for the ones that offer the highest percentage in cash-back rewards. You already know these back-to-school items will add up, so using a card that will nicely reward you with more cash is good. If you don’t have a credit card that rewards cash back, now might be a good time to look into getting one.
7. Utilize Dollar Stores
Most basic school supplies are all the same. Don’t be too proud to go to a dollar store to buy cheap brands for back-to-school. Beyond basic school supplies, you can also find lunch boxes, water bottles, sanitizer, Kleenex, etc., that will be on your child’s list.
8. Comparison Shop
You may not be able to find everything you need at the dollar store. There may be some items you’d prefer to be of lasting quality. For instance, if your child has a ton of books to carry in their backpack, you’re going to want a pretty sturdy one. You may not want to purchase that from a dollar store. Quality book packs can be expensive, so shop around for those and other pricey items.
9. Buy Refurbished Items
Most kids will need some form of technology for the new school year. But, just because it’s technology doesn’t mean it has to be spanking brand new. Refurbished products can make great buys. Electronics are expensive, and if you have the chance to buy a less expensive refurbished product, then do it. Refurbished computers, laptops, and tablets can be bought from computer repair shops. They always sell refurbished brand-name items like Apple and Dell, and your child will not be able to tell the difference between the refurbished and the new item.
10. Use Coupons/Download Apps
Coupons could cut your cost tremendously. If you’ve never been one to use coupons, now might be a good time to start. Paper coupons are still accepted by most retailers. You could also download the apps of the stores you plan to visit to see what coupons you can grab from your phone and use at checkout in-store.
If shopping online, be sure to use browser extensions to clip coupons automatically. For instance, Capital One Shopping or Rakuten to get cash back on purchases!
The Bottom Line
Preparing for the school year isn’t cheap. So utilize the tips here to spend less on back-to-school shopping.
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