Back to school shopping signals the end of summertime fun and a return to more normal routines. But it can also make a big dent in your budget! School clothes, supplies, activities fees, and more can really add up. Here are some ways to save money (and your sanity) as you prepare the kids to return to classes.
Let’s face it, your kids are going to go through a huge number of pencils, pens, paper, notebooks, and other basic supplies throughout the year. It makes sense to buy these items in bulk at your local wholesale club, and stash away the extras for use later in the school year. If you don’t think you will use all of those highlighters before they dry out or don’t have room to store the extra supplies, consider getting together with other parents to pool your money and then divide up the purchased supplies. And don’t forget to check our pages for Sam’s Club and BJs Wholesale Club Coupons and Promo Codes.
Clothing and sporting equipment for kids is often outgrown before it even gets much use. These big ticket items can really add up in traditional stores. But if you check your local consignment or thrift stores, as well as summertime garage and yard sales, and online sources like craigslist and ebay, you may find barely-used items for deep, deep discounts. And at some stores, you may be able to bring your gently used items to swap them for credit toward new (to you) treasures.
Check the List
More and more schools are opting for strict clothing rules and teachers can sometimes be particular about the type of notebooks or other supplies your student needs to have. It’s important to review the supply lists and dress code policies each year to make sure you’re buying the right supplies. That great deal on spiral notebooks won’t do you any good if the teacher has opted to have all students work in 3 ring binders or composition notebooks this year!
Coupons, Coupons, Coupons
If you’re a regular on this site, you probably already know the value of a good coupon or promo code, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed and forget with all of the back-to-school craziness. We make it easy with coupons grouped by category. Don’t forget to check out our pages for School Supply Deals, Clothing Coupons, Computer Deals, and more. A few moments spent browsing these pages could save you big!
Don’t Forget the Dollar Store
With ads arriving in the mail every few days and ads just about everywhere you turn, the big brand stores are all competing for your back to school dollars. It’s easy to forget smaller outlets like your local dollar store. There you’ll find basics like pencils, pens, notebooks, folders and more, often for less than the bigger stores’ sale prices. And our Dollar Tree promo codes can help you find ways to save even more!
Focus on the Bigger Items
With so many sales, rebates, and coupons out there, it’s easy to spend hours just to save a dollar or two on pencils, notepads, or crayons. In reality though, these items are likely to be at a good price most everywhere this time of year. Focus your energy and time on maximizing savings on the bigger items like back-to-school tech or backpacks and clothing.
Remember when you scored that really great deal on notebooks and decided to stock up? Or the huge multi-pack of pencils you bought and then stashed away for future use? Chances are, you may still have some leftover items from last school year. Check all of the usual hiding spots for standard supplies that still have some life left in them, and you could cut your shopping list by quite a bit!
Host a Neighborhood Swap
Don’t have siblings from which to score hand-me-downs? Consider setting up a neighborhood swap. Everyone brings gently used (or sometimes unused!) items their kids have grown out of and goes home with a stash of nearly-new school clothes without spending a dime. This is especially useful in schools with uniforms since the kids all have to wear the same colors and styles. And it’s a great way to spend some time socializing with your neighbors amidst the chaos of the back-to-school season!
Keep Your Receipts
It’s so frustrating to purchase an item and then find it on a fantastic sale the following week. Fortunately, many bigger stores now offer price adjustment programs, so you can get the difference back. Price adjustments are available at stores like Kohl’s, Best Buy, Old Navy, Sears, Target, and Walmart. Be sure to know the individual store’s policies, which can range from one week to 30 days, and bring your receipt, the sales circular featuring the lower price, and your original form of payment (if you used a card) with you to redeem your savings.
Personalize for Added Fun
Yes, your child would much rather have the high-dollar binder decorated with their favorite animal, band, or cartoon, but you can save big by buying plain, generic versions. This doesn’t mean your little one has to go to school with boring supplies. Decorate with inexpensive stickers, or encourage budding young artists to draw or paint their own designs on notebooks and folders. You can add fun embroidered patches, pins, or buttons to boring backpacks, and create and print a personalized collage to slip into the front of that bargain bin binder. When tastes and trends change, you’ll be glad you didn’t pay a fortune for items your kiddo no longer wants.
Play the Gift Card Game
If you know in advance where you’ll be spending your back-to-school budget, be sure to purchase gift cards through sites like Raise or Plastic Jungle. You’ll find discounts up to 25% on cards through these sites, which you can then use in conjunction with other sales and promotions. It’s like getting free money to spend at your favorite stores! And don’t forget to check out our Raise Coupons for details on all of the hottest cards to purchase.
So your student needs a new computer, phone, or other pricey gadget for back to school. Consider buying a refurbished model instead of a brand new one. Most come with the exact same manufacturer’s warranty you’d get if you bought them new. If you go this route, make sure you’re buying from a reputable seller like Amazon or Newegg, or better yet, look for refurbished models direct from their manufacturers. We’ve got some great deals on Dell refurbished computers to help you save big.
Save on Sales Tax
Many states offer a tax-free weekend during the back-to-school season. If you can save just a little bit off every item you purchase, it adds up quickly. This is especially true if you find you have to buy your child a whole new wardrobe because they’ve outgrown last year’s clothing. Check out our handy guide to Tax-Free Weekends 2017, and plan your shopping accordingly!
Social Networking Savvy
Make sure you follow and engage with all of your favorite stores and brands through their facebook, twitter, or other social network pages. Many brands are now publishing exclusive savings just for their followers, and if you can combine these with back to school sales and other perks, you’ll be able to stretch your budget even farther. Also, look to see if your preferred stores offer promotions by text or email. You can always unsubscribe once you’re done shopping, and sign up again next year.