Back to school shopping can be really expensive, and outside of the holiday season, this is the second biggest retail shopping season in America. The biggest items purchased? Electronics, clothing, and school supplies. Needless to say, it's easy to see how these school essentials can add up fast.
If you have kids or if you are a student, then you may likely be picking up a few school supplies, and so in this blog post, I'm sharing a few tips on how to get the most bang for your buck on your back to school shopping list!
Simple ways to save on your back to school shopping list!
As a parent, we know you are busy and don't have much free time. We also know you need to save money whenever possible for emergencies, groceries, and other things...like a vacation. That's why we created a list of easy ways to save you money on all the back to school essentials you need.
1. Make a back to school shopping list and budget
The best way to save money on school essentials is by having a back to school shopping list so you can avoid overspending. The easiest way to create this plan is by starting with a list of things you need to purchase and creating a budget of how much you will be spending on each item.
Start by doing a quick survey of what you or your kids need this back to school season, and then assign a fixed dollar amount to each item. The goal here is that when you go shopping, you stick to your list, and you stick to your budget.
2. Leverage student discounts
If you are buying computers or other expensive electronics (tablets, printers, etc.), you definitely want to see if you can get a student discount from the various retailers because it can save you a bundle of money.
Many retailers offer them, and depending on the store, your discount can be up to 15%, in some cases maybe even more.
3. Compare prices for school essentials online
Before you hit the shops for your school essentials, it's also a good idea to do some comparison shopping online across different retailers for the things you need to pick up. This way, you can be sure you are getting the best prices.
You may also be able to find some coupons online that you can use towards your purchases to bring the costs down even more.
4. Wait to buy backpack essentials for school
When it comes to notebooks, pens, pencils, markers, cases, etc., big retailers like Target and Staples will mark the prices down tremendously just before the back to school shopping season closes, and the markdowns can be major.
I'm talking dollar and cent bargains! So if you aren't in a hurry, it's a good idea to wait to buy your backpack essentials for school.
5. Buy used textbooks and electronics
Save a ton of money by purchasing textbooks and electronics preowned. Slightly used books and refurbished electronics are considerably cheaper than brand new ones, and a lot of times, if the items are in great condition, you may not even be able to tell the difference between new and used.
Compare prices for books on bookfinder.com for the best deal. Also, check out your local pawn shops and the Facebook Marketplace for preowned electronics and other back to school essentials.
6. Save your receipts
Be sure to check back on the purchases you made at the end of the back-to-school season to see if they have been discounted further. If they have, many retailers will give you a price adjustment or partial refund on the price difference, but you will need to have a receipt to get it.
7. Shop secondhand for school essentials
Clothing can get expensive, especially shopping for kids every year. You can save a bundle by shopping second-hand clothing at thrift stores and on sites such as Poshmark. You'd be surprised that most of the clothing is in good condition, and you will find name-brand items for a fraction of the price.
They have other supplies, too, such as backpacks, lunch boxes, binders, and more. Save money on back to school essentials and put that cash in a savings account instead!
8. Use cash-back apps
Don't forget to maximize your savings by using cash-back apps. These apps will give you cash-back just for signing up and shopping! Rakuten is one of our favorite apps, and you get cash-back shopping for school essentials at major retailers.
Apps like Fetch Rewards give you rewards just by uploading pictures of your receipts.
Where to find free school supplies
If you're on a low-income budget, then you should check around for free back to school supplies to help you and your family. Here are a few places that can help you get free backpack essentials for school.
1. Check the Salvation Army for school essentials
One of the best programs offered for free back to school supplies is by the Salvation Army. Regional locations will conduct local drives to help families in need. Simply find a Salvation Army close to you to participate.
2. Boys and Girls Clubs of America
The Boys and Girls Clubs of America team up with national retailers to provide free school supplies to low-income families. You can search for a local chapter to see what programs are available and find back to school drives in your area.
Freecycle is a unique site that features tons of items that people in your town are giving away. Their goal is to keep good stuff out of landfills and encourage people to give it away rather than throwing it out. It's a great place to search for free back to school supplies!
4. Check for brand giveaways
Follow brands or stores on social media to be notified of giveaways or see if they have coupons or other ways to get items for free. Sometimes if you contact them, they may give you promo codes or possibly free samples.
5. Use store rebates
Yes, you have to pay upfront, but for some items, you can get money back by participating in retail store rebates. So, check your favorite stores for rewards programs and rebates that may be going on for school essentials before you shop.
Be savvy and save money on school essentials
Being savvy by shopping sales and secondhand on school essentials will save you big bucks! Being frugal with your money will prevent you from overspending so you can have more money for other things.
For example, you can take the extra money and open a savings account for your child. Your kids will learn from your good financial habits, and you can set them up for success. So try these simple tips and see how much money you save. Happy back to school shopping!