5 Simple Ways to Get Big Back-to-School Savings
The other day I was shopping for a set of pool goggles, and just one aisle over stood shelves of folders, pencils, and notebooks for the upcoming school year. I was saddened to see summer coming to such an abrupt end, and even more devastated when I realized both of my girls would need a full wardrobe overhaul for the fall as they have grown like wildflowers in just a few months.
Starting early is one of the best ways to get the most savings on back-to-school needs. You have more time to seek out the deals rather than grabbing whatever is in front of you if you wait until the last minute. Here are some other tips for stretching your back-to-school bucks before school is back in session. (See also: How to Save on School Supplies Without Going Crazy)
Prepare Your List and Budget
Don’t shop for a single thing until you have first made a budget and a list of things needed. It is way too easy to fall for marketing gimmicks and cute stuff found in back-to-school sales. If you are shopping for more than one kid, make each one a column of their own. If schools have a mandatory supply list, get it early so you have more opportunity to shop around and a longer period of time to save up cash and avoid credit card purchases.
Shop Online First
There are many online retailers that offer excellent discounts and coupons if you sign up for their email promotions. You may also get free shipping offers, which are much more cost-effective than wasting your gas to drive to the mall. Online shopping also gives you the advantage of accessing products you can’t find in your local stores. Just remember to stick with your list and resist the temptation of a good deal on things your children do not need.
Buy Quality Products
Kids of all ages can be hard on their school gear, so you will save more in the long run by purchasing quality items like backpacks, binders, and even clothing. If you are focused only on cost, you will likely need to replace the objects more than once throughout the school year. High-quality items may also last more than one school year, so try to avoid trendy characters and stick with basic colors and designs that will still be cool next year. Let kids choose low-cost trendy items like pencils and folders that won’t last past one school year anyway.
Shop for Next Year This Fall
If you shop clearance sales after school has started, consider the years of school still ahead. Purchase clothing one or two sizes larger than your child’s current size for next fall, if prices are good. Stock up on disposable items like notebooks, paper, crayons, markers, and other supplies that hit rock bottom lows at store clearance sales. After a few years of stocking up, you may never need to be involved in the back-to-school rush again.
Leave the Kids at Home
While not all parents have the option to leave their kids behind on a shopping trip, if you have access to childcare for a few hours, it can help to hit the stores for the major items without your child’s input. Allow them to go on a follow up trip where you only need a handful of things, such as clothing or shoes that need to be properly sized. They can still feel like they participated and got some of the things they wanted without you having to deal with the "I wants" and a much larger shopping bill.
Get started on your back-to-school plan by figuring out the number of weeks you have until school starts and how much extra cash you can put to the side each week for school supplies. This will make it easier to budget your cash and get everything you need without hassle or financial worries.