This post may contain affiliate links.
I can’t believe kids are heading back to school in just a little over a month here in Ohio! We haven’t even started back to school shopping yet! There are some things we’re going to do to help save money this year before, and when we hit the stores to shop for back to school. I thought I’d share some of my favorite money saving tips for back to school.
Money Saving Tips for Back To School Shopping
1. Check inventory – at home, that is. Before you head out to go shopping, check to see what you have on hand. Chances are, if your house is anything like mine, you already have a few extra boxes of crayons and pencils – and maybe even some empty notebooks!
2. Check the supply list. What do you need to buy? Not “need” like that oh-so-adorable cat folder that Suzie must have, but what’s on the list? Compare the list to the supplies you have on hand, and start a new list so you know what to buy when you start shopping.
3. Set a budget, and stick to it. This goes for clothes shopping as well as supply shopping. What do your kids already have on hand that they can still wear this year? Consider buying a handful of tops, and just one or two pair of jeans/skirts if they already have some bottoms at home. Mixing and matching is a great way to save your budget without sacrificing style.
Read over the list, mentally calculate how much you have on hand to spend, and try to stick with it. If this means buying plain folders instead of decorated ones because they’re only half the price, then that’s okay. I always treat the kids to one character folder, and the rest we buy plain. Sometimes it can be the difference between spending 7 cents and 97 cents.
4. Shop now. Well, maybe shopping right now isn’t the best – but shopping early usually is. Follow your favorite blogs to find match-ups on items that are on sale. The items vary from week to week, so you might need to make several trips. Combine your supply trips with other errands so you aren’t wasting money on gas.
5. Shop various stores. While I’d love to just shop at one store for all of our school supplies, I know I’m going to save 50% (or more!) if I shop around. Check Staples, Wal-Mart, Target, Office Max, Office Depot, and even your local dollar stores. Don’t buy the off-brand crayons, but when it comes to folders and such, dollar store folders are fine if they’re going to cost less!
6. Or maybe you shouldn’t shop various stores. This one depends on your local store’s price matching policies. Staples, Office Depot, and Wal-Mart all have price matching policies. Study the circulars (and blogs!), and save time and money by heading to your favorite store.
Don’t forget to price match while grocery shopping as well! This can help you save money on school lunches, and even after-school snacks.
7. Hit the tax-free weekend. Does your state participate in the tax-free weekend? If so, shop then! It gets a little crazy, but if you’re shopping for clothes, backpacks, supplies, and more… it’s worth it!
8. Reuse when possible. If you’re looking for money saving tips for back to school don’t forget to reuse! When it comes to packing lunches, brown paper bags might seem cheap – but in reality, the cost adds up. The same goes for zip loc baggies. Buy reusable ones and you will not only be helping the environment, you’ll be helping your budget! Sure, the initial investment is a bit more, but again… worth it!
9. Shop online. Use sites like Ebates to shop for supplies, clothing, etc and get cash back. This also means you’re saving money on gas – and time, because you don’t have to leave the house. That’s a win-win in my book! Also, don’t forget Amazon! They’re a great place to start when you’re trying to save money on back to school shopping. 10. Buy in bulk. There aren’t many places that offer discounts for bulk-buying of school supplies, but if you see notebooks on sale for a dime, buy enough to last the year! If not, you’ll be stocking up again around the holidays, and they’ll be upwards of $2 a piece if they aren’t on sale. One year, I bought 100 extra notebooks and donated them to the classroom. The teacher was forever grateful!
What are your favorite money saving tips for back to school shopping?
Looking for more back to school? Check out these 100 backpacks for under $25.