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Tips For Saving Money on Back To School Shopping

Ways to save $$ on school supplies.

Have you ever tried to score below average on a school activity?

How about this activity: Back to School Shopping. The average American family spends over $250 a year to get their kids ready for school. With school cutbacks and student supply lists including things from dry erase markers to hand sanitizer, it’s no wonder the costs add up. But they don’t have to — not if you plan ahead and use some of these time-tested tricks to saving money on everything from backpacks to clothes.

It should be a no-brainer at this point that I will always recommend Staples for any school or office supply product. If they don’t have the lowest price, they’ll match it. And during the summer, they’ll match the price and then give you a 10% discount. If you’re not already a subscriber, you can have weekly Staples deals delivered to you email inbox by signing up here: Weekly Stapler Signup.

With that said, here’s how we hope to score below average on back to school shopping:

Save on School Supplies:

  • Stock up on school supplies throughout the year. Back to School Shopping Season runs from July through August, and you will be able to pick up freebies and almost-freebies for common supplies like pens, pencils, erasers, notebooks, folders, school glue, glue sticks, and crayons. Other items on the school supply list might be on sale during different times of the year. For example, wipes will have the best sales in the Spring and hand sanitizer and tissues will be on sale in the Fall.
  • Grab a copy of the next grade’s school supply list. I know that they vary by classroom and by year, and you won’t know what teacher your child will have next year, but I’m willing to bet there will be a lot of similarities from classroom to classroom and year to year. This will help you identify what items to keep an eye out for over the next year.
  • Do you need a new backpack each year? If you get a durable or satisfaction guaranteed backpack the first time, your child will be able to use it year after year. If your child is intent on having a character or other decoration on their backpack, shop around for removable decorations like sew-on patches or buttons that can freshen up the backpack each year.
  • Buy backpacks and lunch boxes on sale the year before. Just after Labor Day, retailers will slash their prices on backpacks and lunchboxes. September is the best time to pick up the high quality, durable backpack that will last your child several school years.

Save on Back to School Clothes:

  • Buy back to school clothes the year before. If you want them new, look for clearance sales in December and January at your favorite stores. If you’re okay with buying them used, get thee to a fall consignment sale. To find one in your area, check out Consignment Mommies. Some online consignment stores, like ThredUp, carry children’s clothes.
  • Buy discounted gift cards to clothing stores. If your kids want to pick out clothes in August, you can stock up on gift cards to their favorite clothing stores throughout the year, when you find them on sale. There are a lot of gift card deals in the holiday shopping season, but just this week I saw a GAP gift card promotion at my local grocery store, and an L.L. Bean gift card deal at CVS. You can also buy discounted cards on clearinghouse sites. I’ve never done it before, or else I would recommend a particular site. (If you have any recommendations, please post them in the comments) Or, use your credit card or other loyalty program’s rewards to get free gift cards.
  • Wait until after Labor Day. Like Christmas decorations, fall clothing will start to get discounted once the kids are in school. You can tide them over with one or two new outfits, but if they haven’t grown significantly over the summer and still want new duds, ask them to wait just a few weeks and then take them shopping. On the plus side, they can see what everyone else is wearing before they blow their fall clothing budget.
  • When ordering online, remember to go through a cashback site. Sites like ebates, topcashback, and shopathome will give you cash back on your online purchase if you stop by their sites first.

What are your favorite tricks for scoring below average on back-to-school spending? 

{image from photomyheart, via FreeDigitalImages.net}

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  1. Well, I don’t have kids and haven’t gone “back” to school for over four years when I went back for my last semester at college, but I DID just purchase the most amazing Swiss Gear brand backpack. This thing is seriously epic. Durable and enough storage to use for work, travelling, or just on the weekend. Love it. Probably won’t need a new one for a decade.

  2. Don’t forget to take a look at Walgreens weekly flyers. They have some good deals on Wexford notebooks, pens, paper etc.

    When in a Staples store, check out their clearance section usually found in the back of the store. You can find some excellent deals there and not just on back-to-school items. Check here year round.

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