After reading what seemed like endless articles on how to save money on back to school shopping for the kiddos, I thought to myself, why isn’t there an article that has all of these ideas in one? Well here it is; the top 10 ways to save while school shopping this year. Although prices are expected to be higher than last year, you can still hunt for a great bargain. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), they are predicting that back to school spending will increase compared to previous years. They also said that online shopping for back-to-school has quadrupled in the past nine years.
According to a PriceGrabber survey, of those back-to-school shoppers polled:
- 37 percent said they will compare prices on their phones while shopping inside a store.
- 34 percent will take the time to print out coupons from retailer websites.
No matter how you choose to shop this school season, here are some tips on how to keep your hard-earned dollars in your pocket.
1) Make a list of everything you need. It’s important to have a list so you don’t over buy. Take inventory of what you have at home; you might have some of the supplies you need already. Let your kids raid your home office supplies. If your child’s school has not provided you with a list, download the Back to School Shopping List iPhone app or print one offline before heading out to the store.
2) Set a budget. Do your homework and research roughly how much everything is going to cost and stick to your budget so you don’t overdo it. Your kids can live without a lot of things on the supply list, such as; pencil sharpeners, white board pens, etc.
3) Don’t buy everything at once: While it may be tempting to catch school supply fever, it’s okay to not buy everything at the same time, or even at the same store. You never know if after the first day of school your 10th grader needs a 1-inch binder rather than the half-inch one you bought. Also, many stores offer different promotions or better deals, so don’t be afraid to shop around a bit and make sure you get the most bang for your buck. Remember, September means sales, things will immediately get put on clearance once school starts.
4) Seek out sales: The economy still isn't doing too hot, which means, according to the NRF, families across the country are searching for sales during their back-to-school shopping sprees. Don’t be afraid to buy generic brands; most often you are buying the same exact product for half the price. Tip: read the back! Many supplies are FREE with a mail in rebate.
5) Discount stores: Stores like the Dollar Tree and Wal-Mart are great places to go to find outstanding deals. If your kid only wants name brands take them to TJ Maxx or Nordstrom Rack. You can also take their old clothes to consignment stores and get some money back that you can use for new clothes.
6) Shop online and find coupons: Many online stores offer free shipping on orders that meet a certain dollar amount and will offer special deals on their Twitter and Facebook profiles, so keep your eyes open! More times than not, there are coupons online that are not in stores. Don’t be shy, print those out and save yourself some cash.
7) Plan a back to school swap: One parent might have more notebooks than they know what to do with. You might have a couple extra backpacks. See what items you can get through swapping. Not only will it be an interesting social activity, but you might really get lucky and score all those items on your kid’s list.
8) Hold off on your big purchases: Items such as laptops can wait. Don’t get caught up in the back-to-school sale hype. You will get a better price come black Friday. Your college kids can use the library for a couple months until you get that sweet deal on their favorite computer.
9) Buy in bulk and buy simple: If you buy large amounts of supplies at once you can put them away for future years. That way if you are having a tough month financially, you can dig out the old supplies and save yourself more spending. In addition, if you buy plain and simple binders and notebooks instead of spending those extra dollars on special designs, your children can decorate them. They get to have fun and you save money.
10) Shop year round: A smart shopper always has their eyes open for the best deals. Buy little things here and there and before you know it you will be ready for school before summer hits. Spreading out your spending can also help ease the stress of spending all that money at once.
How to find the best deals
Believe it or not, most of you already have the tool you need to succeed: a smart phone. Amazon’s Student App allows users to scan a barcode on items like textbooks that they want to buy or sell back. Amazon offers a trade-in program that allows students to turn books, games, movies and electronics into Amazon gift cards. Try some mobile shopping apps to help you locate nearby sales, coupons, price comparisons, promotions, and contests.
Here are some helpful mobile shopping apps:
- Amazon Student
- Google Shopper
- My Shopanion
- The Coupons
- Coupon Sherpa
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