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Staff Writer at Debt Reduction Services

10 Easy Back-to-School Shopping Tips to Save You Money

Many people don’t want to think about back to school yet, especially while in the peak of summer.  However, back to school shopping can creep up on you quickly, so it pays to be prepared.  The best way to save money is to start planning early in order to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Try a Back-to-school swap

So you have a backpack or lunchbox from last year that can handle another school year but your child doesn’t want to use it again?  Host an annual supply swap with other moms.  You could save a bundle!

Create a list and stick with it

Most schools have already published their supply list and have either posted it on the school’s website or made it available at your local retailer.  Don’t forget to cross off any items that you already have or that you swapped for.

Organization counts

Knowing what is on your child’s school supply list (most schools provide these as a guideline of what is needed during the upcoming year) will not only save you money but it can save you time as well. Carry it in your wallet or purse and pull it out whenever you stop in a store. You could come across an unexpected deal.

Take advantage of back-to-school sales

Watch for sales!  Back-to-school is the second biggest shopping season of the year so retailers are eager to make it count, you should too.  Feel free to jump on the coupon bandwagon; all the smart kids are doing it!  Don’t forget to save your receipts as many stores offer a price adjustment if you bought an item that goes on sale shortly after your purchase (usually within 14 days).  Simply show your receipt and the store will refund you the difference.

Buy basic and get creative

While it’s tempting to buy the cute and trendy items, stick to the basics and let the kids add their own personal touch.  For example, use duct tape or a photo collage to decorate an inexpensive, plain white binder.  This is a tip that I’m going to try with my own kids this year.  Let their creative juices flow!

Built to last

Shop for quality items on sale. You can buy cheap pencils, markers or other items and save money up front but if those items wear out fast you will be replacing them much sooner than you would quality items. Now is the time to take advantage of some top name brands on sale. The goal is to save money and many generic and non-brand items will be sufficient, just be sure to check out the items closely and make your own call.

Buy everyday used supplies in bulk

Apply some back-school-shopping tips to check off your child's supply list on a budget.Buying pencils, papers, erasers, notepads and other items of frequent use in bulk can save you money in the long term. Ration what you purchase in bulk throughout the year and if you’re lucky you might have some supplies left over for next year, plus having enough supplies on hand means less impromptu visits to the store throughout the year when supplies are typically more expensive.

Clip those coupons

Search through the Sunday sales ads, scour the internet and do a little homework yourself before heading out. You could even use a cash back shopping app such as Ebates or Ibotta to stack discounts. If you know of other ways to maximize money saved with coupons, add your suggestion in the comments below!

Have a scavenger hunt

You might already have plenty of school supplies lying around your house, send the kids on a scavenger hunt to round it all up and put it in a central location.  Don’t forget to check last year’s backpacks!

Need it now, want it later

Take care of the needs and basics now. If your child wants something, like the next trendy classroom thing, and it isn’t a ‘needs’ item from your list, you can wait before deciding. Some items that look fun might not be accepted in the classroom because they are viewed as distractions. Remember, it’s okay to ask the teacher if you have any questions.

If money is tight, you may also want to ask what supplies will be needed when. This way you can break up the costs over the course of the school year. This strategy can work for your college kids, too!

Do You Have Questions About Making the Most of Back-to-School Shopping?

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Updated: 7/20/2018

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