Summer is almost over (Seriously? It feels like it just started!), which means many children, and their parents are preparing for back to school. Did you know that in 2015, parents in the U.S. spent $25 billion dollars on back to school shopping? That’s an average of $630 per child. Holy crap!
This post has been written by Kimberly Studdard, our regular staff writer.
How to Save Big on Back to School Shopping
If you’re like most, I doubt that your bank account is loaded up with hundreds (or thousands if you have multiple children) of dollars, just waiting to dole out on your kids for this upcoming school year. So what can you do to save big on back to school shopping?
1) Inventory Check
Before you go shopping or even set a budget, you need to check and see what you already have. Keep a running checklist of the items you have, and what you need to buy for each child.
Do you have binders that are still in good shape? Can your child keep the backpack they had the year before? An inventory check is the #1 way to save big on back to school. You’ll find out what you have and what you don’t, and be able to shop accordingly. Why spend money on a bunch of things you don’t even need?
2) Discuss & Set The Budget
Now that you’ve surveyed everything you already have, you can create your budget! If you have a spouse, it’s also important to get their input on the budget that works for your family. Every financial situation is different, so choose a number that you are comfortable with, and something that won’t put you in financial stress. To save big on back to school shopping, you’ll have to make cuts or changes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get quality items for your children.
As a side note, if you are really struggling with making ends meet and can’t afford to even set your budget at all, look into local backpack programs. They will typically provide low income or struggling families with a backpack filled with school supplies at no charge to the family. Don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it.
3) Shop Sales First
Now that you have a budget, and a list of items you still need to buy, it’s time to go shopping! My all time favorite tip to save money, especially to save big on back to school, is to shop the sales and clearance racks FIRST. You can always find top notch quality items at a fraction of the original costs.
Remember to also check flyers for your local area. Many stores like Walmart, Staples, Target, and more have huge back to school sales. During those sales you could typically find supplies for as little as .25 cents!! How’s that for a deal?!
4) Get Thrifty
Kids grow fast. That’s just the law of the land. So why spend a small fortune every single year on clothes when you don’t have to? Going thrift shopping can help you check off all of the clothing items on your list, without spending a ton of money.
If you can’t typically find nice items at the stores in your area, try this: go to the richest neighborhood in your city. You may be surprised to find clothes that are new or mint condition, some of which are designer clothes for pennies on the dollar. I’ve scored quite a few outfits for my daughter for under $5 an outfit, and most still had the tags on them!
5) Buy School Items In Bulk
If you have more than two kids, I highly suggest shopping in bulk. A large family can save big on back to school by paying less for bulk items vs. paying more money for separate items. Sure, sometimes bulk doesn’t save you money, so price comparison is important, but usually you can find some hefty discounts. Plus, you may be able to avoid shopping at multiple stores, another great perk when shopping with multiple children.
Don’t worry if the bulk items you buy have a few more packs or tools than you may need at first. Kids lose, break, and run out of items faster than you may think, so having a few back up’s is a smart move. You could also add those extra items in your inventory for a year or two until they run out.
6) Online Shopping
Online shopping has become one of my favorite ways to get inexpensive items. Not only do you skip the hassle of shopping sales, but you can also save big on back to school shopping in the comfort of your own home. The greatest thing is, you can typically find the same deals, or better deals, online.
Want to save even more money while shopping online? Sign up for the store’s email list. You’ll usually get a coupon, and those coupons can typically be applied on all items, even items on sale.
These tips are great ways to help you save big on back to school, but there are always other options to save money. Let’s see if we can get below the national average of spending this year!
What are your methods to save big on back to school shopping?
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.