Saving Money On Back to School Supplies
Back-to-school time has become its own shopping season, falling just behind back-to-college and Christmas in terms of family expenditures, according to the National Retail Federation. In 2020, the NRF reported record back-to-school spending, with parents spending an average of $789.49 per child, up from the previous record of $696.70.
And that’s just for elementary through high school. If you have college students in your family, the NRF estimates you’ll spend about $1,059.20 on supplies.
That’s almost as much as an average mortgage payment, and each year, costs continue to outpace inflation. Multiply this amount by two or three (or five) children, and it’s easy to see why many parents start sweating in mid-July, when the barrage of back-to-school fliers and ads start appearing.
But these back-to-school saving tips can take some of the stress out of the season.
MoneyCrashers offered 16 tips to help save on back to school supplies and we have chosen 5 to highlight:
- Do A Supply Sweep:You probably already have plenty of last year’s school supplies you can reuse this year. Closets, desk drawers, and basement bins could hold hidden treasures that can save you money.
Start by rounding up all of the office and school supplies you already own. Put them in a central location, such as a plastic bin or the dining room table, so you can make a list of what you have and a shopping list of what you need.
Keep this list in your purse or car to avoid forgetting it when you shop for school supplies. You can also take a picture of your current supplies to refresh your memory when you’re shopping.
Next, go through your kids’ closets and start sorting. Donate or toss clothing kids have outgrown and timeworn clothing. Once you complete this supply sweep, you’ll have a clearer picture of what you need to buy. Ideally, the sweep will prevent you from buying something you already have on hand.
- Check The Dollar Store:You can get some incredible bargains on school supplies at the dollar store, where you can find basic supplies like notebooks and pencils as well as classroom supplies like facial tissue and sanitizer, all at bargain prices.
Start shopping in the summer months because you never know what products stores will order or how long they’ll stay in stock. Just note that there are some things you should never buy at the dollar store, such as batteries and tape.
- Price Compare:
Most parents have to buy some sort of electronics for their kids for school. You can save on these by keeping an eye on Amazon’s ever-changing prices.
The website CamelCamelCamel tracks the price range history for every product sold on Amazon, including historical highs and lows. You can sign up for price change alerts for specific products and get a notification every time their prices change.
To use ShopSavvy, simply scan the bar code of the product you’re interested in, and the app tells you if a lower price is available at another store or website. For the app to work, you also need to download a bar code scanner, which you can get for both iOS and Android devices.
Last, don’t forget to look to your grocery store or neighborhood drugstore for bargains on school supplies. Check local circulars starting in midsummer. You might be surprised to find that some products are actually cheaper when they’re on sale at these stores than at big-box stores.
Additionally, many stores have reward or loyalty programs that enable you to earn points or other loyalty currency when purchasing goods there.
- Hold Off On New Clothing:
Every child wants new clothes when they head back to school. And while retailers do put clothing on sale for back to school, Kristin Cook, managing editor of price-tracking site Ben’s Bargains, told Consumer Reports before school starts isn’t the best time to buy a new wardrobe for your kids. Prices typically go down in September after the big clothes-buying rush is over.
A better strategy is to buy one new outfit for your kids to wear on the first day and then do most of your shopping when prices drop further in September or October.
Another way to save is to scour thrift stores and consignment shops. If you live near a larger city or are willing to travel, you can often find high-quality clothing at dirt-cheap prices there.
- Follow Stores on Social Media:Many companies send their loyal followers coupon links and advance notice of sales. If you plan to bargain-hunt this year, monitor your favorite stores’ Twitter and Facebook feeds to find deals.
You can follow many popular stores on Twitter.
To see all 16 tips and read this article in its entirety, click HERE.