It’s August and that means parents across the country are preparing for back to school with their kids. Shopping for back to school items can be a tedious and costly process. We’ve compiled the following 25 back-to-school shopping tips from several experts on the subject matter. This year, get everything you need on your back to school list for less by following these tips.
1. Take Stock: Inventory what you have at home before you go shopping. You may find crayons, pens, pencils, folders, loose-leaf paper, notebooks, etc. left over from previous years.
2. Check the Sunday Newspaper Ads: Many national office supply and drug stores often offer school supplies for super cheap or FREE.
3. Mobile Apps: Check out money-saving smartphone apps like ShopKick, Plink, and Valpak and find online coupons.
4. Personalize: Don’t buy the fancy and decorative notebooks. Buy plain ones instead and let your kids decorate them.
5. Coupons: Look for coupons from the manufacturers of school supplies like Expo and Bic. And never make a purchase before searching sites like Savings.com for a coupon code.
6. Take Advantage of Tax Breaks: Read our latest Did You Know blog for more information and to determine if your state participates.
7. Social Media: ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ office supply brands and discover exclusive deals. Search hash tags on Twitter such as #deal, #save, or #coupon and you’ll receive a return of some thrifty deals.
8. Consignment Sales: Get discounts on quality clothing at children’s consignment sales. You can search online for sales in your area at: www.kidsconsignmentsales.com. Also check out ‘Just Between Friends‘ - the Nation’s Leading Children’s & Maternity Consignment Sales event!TM Plato’s Closet is a national chain that sells trendy, secondhand brand-name clothing in good condition for a lot less than retail.
9. Use Cash Back Sites: Sites like Ebates.com allow you to purchase items and also earn back a percentage of your total purchase amount.
10. After School Activities: Look for local deals on kid-friendly activities, food and entertainment and keep your kids entertained during after school hours.
11. Hold Off Buying Trendier Gear: While your kids may love a back-pack or lunch box they see over the summer, they may want something different after they see what their friends are using.
12. Shop End-of-Summer Sales: Hit the big summer sales, and purchase discounted clothing that can be worn well into fall.
13. Stick to Your List. Follow the supply list provided by your child’s teacher or school. Don’t waste money on unlisted items.
14. Find Basic Supplies at the Supermarket: Keep an eye on the store’s weekly ad for great deals on pens and loose-leaf paper.
15. Get Creative: Let your kids personalize plain, white binders with digital photos.
16. Swap with Friends: Trade toys, books, and clothing with other moms.
17. Plan Lunches: Keep an eye on the weekly store ads for school lunch items that are on sale.
18. Buy Bright Colored Items: Bright backpacks, lunch boxes, pencil cases, etc. are hard to miss and easier to keep up with. Lost items results in lost money for you.
19. Shop the Big Three. Old Navy, Gap Kids, and The Children’s Place rotate merchandise often—
ask when they do their markdowns so you can grab the deals.
20. Browse Craigslist.org: You can find top-quality stuff on the cheap. You can also be a seller and get some cash back for your items. Just enter your location and click on “Baby and Kids.”
21. Track the Sales: As you are checking the Sunday inserts from Staples, Office Max, Office Depot, Wal-Mart, and Target make a note of what you need, which store has the deal, and when. Clip and collect the coupons in an envelope so you’ll have them handy when you go shopping
22. Barter: Join a mom’s group in your area and organize a clothing swap party and exchange items for free.
23. Download Textbooks Online: Virtual books that can be purchased and downloaded to your computer can save you a ton of money,
24. Spread Out Your Purchases: Buy things you know your kids will need in the months leading up to school. This will keep you from spending a lot of cash all at once.
25. Get Next Year’s Supplies This Fall: Buy a couple years’ worth of back to school items like notebooks, packs of paper, pens, highlighters, poster board, and index cards after the new school year rush. You will find that they are ridiculously cheap.
Kasey Trenum, blogger at Time2saveworkshops.com and DealPro for Savings.com.
Family Circle magazine and moms on their social network, Momster.com.