Can you believe that summer is almost over and a new school year is about to begin? Your kids have probably outgrown many of their clothes and used up most of last year’s school supplies, which calls for a trip to the store (or the internet) for some back-to-school shopping.
On average, American families spend more than $500 per child each year on new shoes, backpacks, computers, and other necessities on their back-to-school supplies list.
Luckily, there are some clever ways you can save. Here are a few tips to help you send the kids back to school without sending your budget out the window:
- Know What You Need
If your child’s school provides a school supplies list, print that out. If not, talk to your kids and refer to these suggestions to create a school supplies list that works for your family. When you hit those back-to-school sales, stick to your shopping list to avoid overspending.
- Know What You Already Have
Don’t buy replacements for what you already own. Before heading to the store for pencils or glue sticks, take a thorough inventory of what you already have. Check the basement, under the couch, AND that overstuffed junk drawer to look for lingering school supplies from last year.
Designate a drawer or cabinet space for school supplies to make things easier next year. It’s also a good idea to inventory your child’s closet before updating their fall wardrobe.
- Sign Up for Emails
Every store is trying to get you to spend money at their back-to-school sales instead of at their competitors’. Take advantage of that by signing up for their email or text list and looking out for coupons and sales information. Following stores on social media can also help you learn about back-to-school deals.
- Get Thrifty
Thrift stores, consignment shops, and garage sales can be back-to-school deal gold mines, especially for kids’ clothes.
- Look for a Uniform Exchange
Many schools that require their students to wear uniforms host uniform exchanges, which allow parents to pick up gently used items of clothing for free or at reduced cost. Call your children’s school or check its website to see if it has this kind of program, and if it does, be sure to pay it forward by donating uniform pieces that your children have outgrown.
- Know When to Shop
Many stores have set days and times during the week when they lower prices to make room for new merchandise. For example, Target marks down kids’ clothing on Mondays and Macy’s usually marks down inventory on Sundays. Do a little research to find our when your favorite stores mark down items, then arrive soon after to find your back-to-school deals.
- Buy Discounted Gift Cards
If you love a particular store, there’s likely someone else who has a gift card from that store that they will never use. Luckily, the internet has made it easy for you both to connect. At sites like Raise, you can find gift cards at discounted prices, which can save you 10% or more.
- Wait if You Can
Some items on the kids’ school supplies list are necessary from day 1, but others can wait a few weeks. Buy one back-to-school outfit before school starts and then wait for your favorite stores to advertise sales before buying more. Try to get a little more life out of your aging computer or last year’s school supplies before hurrying to replace them. You may find better deals once the back-to-school rush has died down.
- Encourage Your Kids to Work for Any Extras They Want
If your kids are begging for something you think is too expensive or frivolous, assign them chores or encourage them to watch a neighbor’s pet or sell lemonade in order to earn the money to buy it themselves. They’ll learn the value of a dollar and they may even decide they’d rather save the money they earned (like in a Dover Federal Youth Savings Account)!
Do More With What You Save
All that money you save this back-to-school season could go a long way toward your emergency fund or next family vacation. Put that extra cash in a Share Savings or Money Market account and earn competitive dividends to help your savings grow – almost as fast as your kids are.