Summer goes by quickly — just like the money in your wallet once back-to-school shopping begins. Most parents are eager to find ways to cut back on the cost of school shopping, and while many parents clip coupons or buy generic, there are other creative ways to help fulfill the back-to-school list on a budget.
Here are 10 ways to save money on back-to-school shopping from the experts:
1. Reuse and repurpose supplies
School supply lists don’t vary much from year to year. Print the list and see what you already have on hand. If you have supplies left over from last year, reuse them. Or personalize plain home-office supplies with stickers, photos or paint.
2. Set a budget and make a list
Before you shop, sit down with your kids to set a budget and make a list. Give each child a certain amount of money for school supplies and clothing, and tell her she can keep whatever is left. You’d be surprised how attractive last year’s backpack and discount clothing start to look. Including your children in the process will provide a valuable lesson in responsibility and a smoother shopping experience.
3. Clip coupons with the kids
Sale items matched with coupons save the most money. They can also be a test of patience, because the brand, size, type and quantity of the sale item and the coupon need to match. That’s where kids can help. Show them how to find the match-ups. Keep an eye on the weekly newspaper coupons and check coupon pages for printable school supply coupons each week. Shop at stores that accept competitor coupons to save yourself driving around.
4. Shop during tax-free days
Sales tax holidays are right around the corner. August is the most popular month for states to offer tax-free shopping tied to back-to-school shopping. Check out all of the sales tax holidays
for 2022. (Note: Iowa’s tax free holiday is this weekend!)
5. Find consignment sales
Consignment sales offer a great way to save money on kids’ clothes, letting you replenish their closets with gently used, good quality clothes without paying full price for items they will quickly outgrow. In addition to brick-and-mortar consignment shops, your town may have one-time events that set up in churches or other locations for a weekend. Before you shop, clean out your kids’ old clothes and bring them in for credit toward your purchase.
6. Host a clothing swap
Contact friends from the neighborhood, church, school or moms’ clubs who have children in a range of ages. Set up a time to meet, bring outgrown clothes and start swapping. Create a Facebook event to spread the word.
7. Remember thrift shops
Don’t forget stores like Goodwill, Savers and Salvation Army. The merchandise rotates frequently, so one day you may find nothing, but the next day you might find a gold mine of adorable clothes. Plus, these organizations donate money to nonprofit agencies in your community to help those in need.
8. Don’t skip big-name stores Just because the original price is high, it doesn’t mean you can’t find a good deal at places like Children’s Place, Gymboree, Crazy 8, Macy’s or Kohl’s. You will never pay full price if you sign up for email lists to get advance notice of sales, follow the stores on Facebook or Twitter, look for discount codes online, clip coupons or use store cash. If you find an item that you’ve purchased is cheaper 14 days later, some stores let you bring in the receipt and collect the difference.
9. Create a shopping team and buy in bulk
Get together with other parents to create a back-to-school shopping team. Plan a fun day for the kids while the parents devise a strategy. You may even find it makes sense to buy in bulk at warehouse stores and split the costs.
10. Wait to buy
If your kid is begging for that absolutely-can’t-live-without item and it’s not within your budget, wait a few weeks. That item might be replaced by the next big thing or it might go on sale. Also check with the school and other parents to find out if you really need everything on the list the first day because it is likely to be cheaper after school starts.