The start of a new school year, can bring with it a lot of new expenses, and if you’re budget is already stretched as far as it will go, this can lead to a difficult time financially for both parents and children. Now is the time to start figuring out ways to save money on back to school.
I’ve been there, I’ve been that parent who was stretched too thin financially and still had to figure out how to buy all of the school supplies, uniforms, clothes, and shoes. But I learned very quickly that there are a lot of ways to save money and still get everything you need for your kids to have a perfect back to school experience.
How to save money on back to school shopping
Shop your house
You’d be surprised at how much you might not need when you’re preparing for back to school. Go through all of your kid’s clothing and figure out what they can still wear, what’s in good or great condition, and what may need to be replaced. If a younger child can wear things that are still in good condition… pass it down. Don’t be afraid to hand things down to younger siblings to help save some money.
On top of that, look at all of the supplies and things your children may have brought home with them from the previous school year. I know I was always amazed at the supplies that had either never been touched or had only been used once or twice. So sharpen those pencils, combine the liquid glue into one bottle to fill it up, clean out the old pencil boxes or bags, and wipe down old lunch boxes. If it’s still in good condition, there is no reason not to reuse it for the same child or pass it down to one that’s a little younger.
Make a list and a budget
Making a list and establishing a budget for all of the needed items is absolutely crucial. This will allow you to see absolutely everything that you need. The easiest way to do this is to go to either your school or school district web page and see what the required school supplies are for each grade. If you can’t find the school supply list there, head to a local target or Walmart, many times they will have the school supply lists for the schools surrounding that store posted towards the front. Pick one of those up and start looking at the things you still need to get.
Once you have your list, it’s time to set a realistic budget. This will help you to know about how much you can expect to spend, so you spend your money more wisely. It will also keep you from making those unexpected or frivolous purchases on things…like sparkly glue and unicorn binders.
Shop at the dollar tree
Not everything has to be name brand. Paper, crayons, folders, pencil boxes, bags,etc can all be bought for pretty cheap at the dollar store. You can also pick up cleaning supplies and facial tissue here as well. Teachers ask for some pretty crazy things that they are just going to toss into the “share” box. So don’t feel like you have to Provide Connie Shares a lot with a box of Prisma Colors colored pencils… if Rose Art is good enough for little Johnny at home, then Rose art can be good enough for school.
Shop at thrift stores/consignment shops
I love a good thrift store. Around me, my favorite thrift store is Once Upon a Child. I buy the greater majority of my kids clothes here when they are younger. It’s a great way to find good quality, name brand, clothing for an amazing price. Now, it can be a little harder to find good condition clothes for kids between 5t and size 12 just because kids tend to be a little more rough on clothes at these ages, but it’s worth it to check out. I’ve found a ton of brand name clothes, with the tags still on them… for a fraction of the cost. My kids are over here running around in Tommy HIlfiger and handcrafted Italian leather boots, and I’m sitting here in my Walmart Tank top with a three day old mystery stain. Thanks Once Upon A Child!
You may also be able to find uniforms at consignment shops around certain school, so make sure to look in there before buying new.
Take advantage of sales and tax free events
Many stores like Target and Walmart participate in back to school discount days and tax free events. Make sure that you are tracking what days these will be on because this is a great way to stock up on things like paper, socks, underwear, etc and save your money while you do it.
Be willing to shop at more than one store
If you are willing to shop around and visit more than one store, you will undoubtedly find that you are saving more money. Now I know this isn’t always easy… I dread the though of having to load and unload five yelling kids but some stores have better prices on specific items than others.
Find penny deals
Penny deals are some of my favorite offerings out there. So these may be things like buy one pack of crayons get another for a penny. Normally you can find these places like OfficeMax and Staples. Check the flyers for information on when these will be available.
Check those clearance racks
Don’t pay full price, if you don’t have to! Check the clearance racks for clothes and supplies in the stores.
Take advantage of cartwheel and other store programs
There are a ton of savings programs out there for you to take advantage of extra deals and savings. Target has the cartwheel app where you can find extra savings on clothing, food, and other merchandise throughout the store. Try and group these up with other deals in the store.
Other stores may have their own savings programs, so make sure to check apps and ask about loyalty programs while you’re shopping.
Shop during the summer or off seasons
Shopping for certain items during the off season is a great way to save money. So again, check those sales and clearance racks for things like jackets, pants, sweaters, long sleeve shirts, etc during the summer because you may be able to find them for under $10.
Many stores offer price match guarantees because they’d rather sell something for a slightly lower price and earn your money than to have you go someplace else to buy it. So make sure that you’re checking internet prices for the stores you’re shopping at as well as in other stores and Amazon. If you find a lower price someplace else, just show the cashier at checkout and many times they will honor that lower price.
Shop at office supply stores
Office supply stores are where it’s at for cheaper prices when it comes to some school supplies. You can find things like pens and markers and pencils in bulk for much better prices than you would at other stores. They also are more likely to offer those Penny deals I was mentioning above.
Wait to make big purchases until after school starts
Some things like computers and tablets may be a better buy AFTER school starts. This is when a lot of those bigger items will be put on sale. So, if you can, hold off on those items until after the initial back- to – school rush is over.
Buy good quality products
I know we are discussing ways to save money, but there really is something to be said about buying higher quality items that will last longer. So purchasing a slightly more expensive and higher quality backpack, lunchbox, or shoes may end up saving you money down the road. Those higher quality products, that tend to get a lot of wear and tear, will most likely last longer. Just make sure to check out customer reviews to make sure that the item you are about to purchase is worth the money you are going to spend.
Don’t forget to check Amazon
Amazon is a great resource for parents trying to save money. You can find some great prices on school supplies, cleaning products, and personal hygiene items. Plus if you sign up for Prime and the Subscribe and Save options you can get free shipping ( sometimes even same day) and extra money off of your purchases.
Leave the kids at home while you shop
I cannot stress this one enough… LEAVE THE KIDS AT HOME when you head out to do your shopping. If you’re not shopping for clothing or need them there to try things on, leave them at home with a sitter or with the other parent. Even though it’s fun having the kids with you picking out their favorite items, it can lead to you spending more money.
Ask for a bare bones supply list from the teacher
If you’re on an extremely tight budget, contact the teacher before school begins or ask on the first day of school for a necessities list. Explain the situation and you just want to make sure that your child has exactly what they need. The teacher should be more than willing to give you a list of just the absolute bare necessities for the class so you aren’t having to spend a ton of extra money on extra things.
Don’t be afraid to return products if you over spend
If you’ve finished buying all of your supplies and have realized that you’ve gone over your budget or spent more than you’re able to, don’t be afraid to return items. Keep your receipts and just take back things that you may not have needed or that you may have found better deals on someplace else. The cashiers aren’t going to ask why you’re returning it, so you don’t have to worry about being embarrassed about returning the items.
Do you have any tips for saving on back – to – school items that I didn’t share above? Share them with us in the comment section below!
Make sure to hit that follow button and join the GnG Fam. You can also keep up with all of the latest going on my following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.