Whether you’ve decided to continue online education or decided to send your kiddos back to school, you’ve had to make some tough choices. Either way, the back-to-school expenses never seem to change. We’ve put together a list of what to keep in mind when planning your shopping list!
Hold Off on New Clothing
Shopping for new clothes is always a highlight at the beginning of the new school year. If your child is continuing their schooling online, they may not need any new clothes. It’s okay to skip the back-to-school styles as they may not be going back conventionally.
While retailers do have great back to school sales, Consumer Reports states that there is an even better time to purchase new clothes. Prices typically drop in September, after the clothes-buying rush is over. This way, you’ll still get into those new school styles and save some cash along the way (and avoid those before school buying crowds!).
Thrift for Clothing or Swap
Thrift stores are always an excellent option for kids’ clothing. Kids grow so fast that they often don’t wear out their clothes before they’re too big, leaving plenty of gently used items at thrift stores.
Or, you can swap with other parents, or get a group of friends for a clothing/backpack exchange.
Even keep your eye on Craigslist/Facebook marketplace/garage sales in town. (You’ll also feel good giving all those items a second life, keeping them out of landfills!)
Buy in Bulk
Bulk buying is an excellent strategy for saving some money! Think: snacks and other items for your kids to take for lunches, odds and ends supplies like Ziploc bags and tissue boxes, or reams of paper. Compare your shopping lists with other parents and decide who should purchase what, or split the cost! You’ll shorten your shopping trips and save a large chunk of change by shopping in bulk!
Review Your Lists
If you’ve budgeted the cost of back-to-school into your savings for a few months, you might be able to purchase every item now. If not, see what you can purchase this month and what items you can put off until later.
Check with the teacher to work with you on separating the “need nows” from the “need laters.” Dividing up your shopping will help reduce the strain on your budget and leave your shopping list nimble if we face the unexpected again. The school may even offer some donated supplies for families facing financial difficulties. Back-to-school drives often begin in the weeks leading up to school and provide ample supplies; all it takes is finding out where those drives are happening!
Inventory & Budget
If you want to save on kid’s supplies, take a look at what you already have.
If you’re like me, you likely have a plethora of pens, notepads, and folders. Are their crayons in decent shape? Do they already own a pencil box?
Look through the back-to-school supply list and determine what you need to buy, vs. what you already own and can reuse or repurpose.
Shopping online has its perks! Add the Wikibuy and Honey browser extensions. When shopping, Wikibuy will alert you about other retailers with a better price available for the same item. Honey will automatically search for and apply coupon codes to help you get the best price.
If you’re going mobile, apps like ShopSavvy, ScanLife, and BuyVia do a lot of the price-comparison heavy-lifting!
Additionally, many stores have rewards or loyalty programs that enable you to earn points or “store dollars” when purchasing items there.
Follow Stores on Twitter & Facebook
Finally, consider watching companies on their social media platforms! Companies often share exclusive coupon links and advance notice of sales to their followers.
For example, here are just a few stores you can find on Twitter:
- Amazon Deals: @amazondeals
- Coupons.com: @Coupons
- Staples: @Staples
- Office Max: @OfficeMax
- TJ Maxx: @tjmaxx
- Marshalls: @marshalls
- Best Buy: @BestBuy
- Target: @Target
- Kohl’s: @Kohls
- RetailMeNot: @RetailMeNot
Like many others, you’re adapting and thinking through the best way to make ends meet, provide for your kids, and more. No one expected the year and decisions we’d all be facing, and no one expects you to make them on your own! We are always here to help guide you toward a solution.