Soon you’ll be seeing school buses back on the road and children wearing brand new shoes, backpacks filled to the brim along with the latest gadgets. Families consider back-to-school items essential and they take whatever steps they can, including cutting back on discretionary spending, shopping sales, and buying store or off-brand items to purchase what they need for the upcoming school year. These tips on back-to-school shopping can help prioritize spending and save money.
Create and prioritize your list of back-to-school shopping needs.
- Review items you may have from last year that you can reuse.
- Before you start spending money on the school year, create a list of needs and put them in order from most important to least. You may not be able to cover everything right away—but this list will help you see what to tackle first.
Make a back-to-school budget.
- Once you have that list of needs, you need to create a budget to make it all happen. What school-related needs will occur every month (like after-school care or an extracurricular activity fee)?
- Some needs are one-time things. You can make a budget line for back-to-school supplies to cover all these things.
Save on clothing by seeing what you already have.
- Before you start back-to-school shopping for new clothes, shop your kids’ closets and drawers. What still fits? What doesn’t? Did you save the older kid’s stuff to hand down? All this sorting may take time, but in this case, time is money.
Spread out the Shopping.
- Don’t feel like you have to buy a completely new wardrobe before school starts—because you don’t. Spread out the spending over several months.
- You’re going to feel the draw of those back-to-school sales. But there will be other sales. Old Navy, Gap, and The Children’s Place email out 40%-off codes on the regular.
- Buy a little this month, buy a little next. Don’t blow the budget in August. Not only is that a risky money decision, but your kid is also likely to shoot up another inch by October. Then, it’s back to the racks anyway.
Use the dollar store for some back-to-school shopping.
- You might be surprised at the quality of things you find. Certain items like clipboards, poster board, planners, and pens are just as good here as anywhere else.
Don’t rule out the prepared back-to-school supply box.
- Check into the prepared supply box your school probably offers each grade. You can do some online price checks to see which is the better deal: buying everything individually on your own or getting the box from school.
- Consignment shops, garage sales, thrift stores, and Facebook Marketplace are all great options to find great used items to purchase. Goodwill even usually has at least one half-off day every month.
Take Advantage of that back-to-school tax-free weekend.
- If your state has sales tax and is having a tax-free weekend this year, find out when and get in on those savings. Depending on your state, you can usually buy clothing, school supplies, shoes, and even some tech items tax-free.
Download apps to your favorite stores.
- Target and Walmart have apps with savings perks. When you’re back to school shopping you can get special offers, see store pickup options and check out clearance items from your phone.
Find stores that price match.
- Some stores will offer to match prices if you find a better deal elsewhere. Office Depot, Walmart, Michael’s Kohl’s, and Target are a few stores that offer this benefit.
Getting ready to go back to school can be stressful, but it’s about 98% better when you follow these tips—especially the budgeting part. Then all you need to do is “Be True to Your School” and help the kids with homework.
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