For your kids, probably the most exciting part of going back to school is shopping for new clothes and school supplies. For parents it can be worrisome, fearing they will have to spend a small fortune to prepare their kids for the new school year.
In this article we will explore some money saving ideas and hopefully you will get an A+ in frugal back-to-school shopping.
— Have a plan. The best way to start your back-to-school shopping is to have a plan. The last thing you want to do is wonder through the stores with your kids and make purchases on a whim falling victim to impulse buys. Most schools provide a list of the supplies that students will need to have throughout the school year. Make sure you are armed with this list when you head out on your shopping excursion. If you don’t have a list, contact your child’s school either by stopping by or online.
Okay, now that you know what supplies your kids need you can start looking for ways to save a few bucks.
— See what you have already. Check the list and see if you have any of the supplies that you need right there at home. If your kids need a ruler, and you have one, there is no need to go out and buy another. You can get your kids involved in the search by giving them a few items to hunt for, making a game out of it.
Keep in mind that the supply list from the school doesn’t change much from year to year, so check what was brought home last year for anything that can be used this year.
— Compare prices in the store. If you happen to have a smart phone you can use an app like ShopSavvy Barcode Scanner to make sure you are getting the best price.
— Shop where they “price-match”. Stores like Office Depot, Staples and Office Max all have price-match programs, if you see an advertised price on a certain item; the store will match that price, usually including instant rebates. Be sure to check out all of the store circulars, then save some gas money and head to the closest store.
— Clothing for less. Before you make a bee-line to the big name retail stores, consider having a clothing swap in your neighborhood. Get all of the Moms together, bringing their clean, in good condition clothes to the swap meet.
Consignment and thrift stores are also a good source for school clothes, often name brand items can be had for a song. If you children attend a school that requires a uniform, make sure you shop around. With more and more schools changing to uniforms, you can now find what you need at most retailers.
— Pass on the trendy gear. Don’t get the trendy lunch box or pencil cases, at least not yet. It’s likely when your kids get to school they will see what the other kids have and if it is different from what they have, they will surely want something new.
— Don’t forget the grocery school. Not for food but for pencils, pens and paper. Scour the grocery store circulars for sales on these items, and while you are there you might as well do your weekly grocery shopping… saving a little on gas making one trip.
— Craig’s list and Ebay. Great quality stuff can be found on Craig’s list and Ebay but you can also sell off some of the stuff your kids don’t need anymore. You could possibly fund your back-to-school shopping trip by selling your unwanted items.
—Tax-Free Holidays. Many states roll out their tax-free holidays around the beginning of the school year. Make sure you check to see if your state has one planned; and if it does, be sure to take advantage of it. You could save as much as 10% by shopping on the right day.
While it is given that your kids need certain items for the new school year, just like any of the other shopping seasons, unless you are careful, it is easy to go overboard. Be sure you don’t get caught up in the back-to-school shopping frenzy and buy things that you don’t need and spend way more money than you have.