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How to Save on Back to School Shopping

Back to school shoppingBelieve it or not, school is just around the corner. I know you probably don’t want to think about summer nearing its end (whether you’re a parent or child), but now is the time to start thinking about back to school shopping. The crazy thing is that the list of what a child needs can seem endless.

With that in mind, now is the time to determine what your child will need for this upcoming school year. Since kids grow like weeds you will most likely need to buy them new clothes. The back to school list doesn’t end there as you will also need school supplies like pens, pencils, erasers, books, and more. It sounds like a lot, but I bet you can get many of these items for pennies on the dollar. You just have to know when and where to look. As an aside, the “average” family spent at least $635 in 2013 on back to school shopping. Seeing as you’re reading Wise Dollar, I know you’re not average and thus plan on saving money. 🙂

Find New Clothes for the Kids

As we established earlier, your kids will likely need some new clothes, so where can you go to find some reasonable prices on clothes that they will actually wear? My first instinct would be to send you to Goodwill, though that can be hit or miss on occasion. They do get new shipments in from Target once in a while, but they leave the racks quickly, so it might not be a bad idea to make friends with an employee or manager to get a feel for when the next batch of clothes are coming in.

Beyond Goodwill (or other thrift stores), you could also consider trying other upscale consignment stores as know they have grown in popularity here in Omaha. Your kids can get the name-brand clothes they want for less than half the price. This could be a huge savings on your wallet if you typically want to dish out big bucks for a pair of jeans. The other option is to do a clothing swap with other families who have kids of the same gender but a year or two older. That way you get to help each other out and both save money on back to school clothing.

Find Cheap Office Supplies

Office supply stores all fight for your business during the back to school shopping season. Between Office Depot, Staples, and Office Max, you can find some amazing deals on spiral notebooks, pens, pencils, and erasers. If you aren’t a big fan of the crazy madness brought on by other deal seeking parents, you can also check out grocery stores or the Dollar Store as they commonly both have deals.

The other option to consider, and one I tend to go with is by shopping on Amazon. You may not always find the best deals, but you can often find very competitive prices and can do it from the comfort of your own home.

 

Related: Check out the Amazon back to school sectiontoday for savings on all your back to school needs.

 

Back to School Shopping and Electronics

If your children need a new computer for school, I would advise you to save up some money early and take your time looking for a deal. Laptops, and calculators for that matter, always seem to make their way onto Craigslist around this time, but you must be quick to act, which means you need to have the cash in hand.

If you find a used item that functions just as it would if it were new (likely for half the price), then you should be ready and willing to buy that item, knowing full well that your child will be needing it in the near future. Going back to the Amazon option given above, they are a great option again for electronics that you can buy through them or a third party vendor. They even have laptops, like the Acer Chromebook, for under $200 at times.

I have always found the key with saving money on back to school shopping is to plan ahead and realize that because you spend more doesn’t mean that it’s going to necessarily going to be better. Look for the more frugal options and don’t be afraid to buy used. At the very least, this can be a great opportunity to begin to involve your children and build into them some wise financial decision making.

 

What are your tips to save on back to school shopping? When do your children start back to school? At what age do you think a laptop is appropriate for a student?

 

 

Photo courtesy of: Flight Centre

 

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John Schmoll is a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. He's passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes so that they can live lives free from the shackles of debt and empowered to make their money work for them. You can check out his other sites: Frugal Rules, for ways to improve your financial literacy; and Sprout Wealth for tips on different ways to make more money. John has been featured on Forbes, Lifehacker, Yahoo Finance and US News & World Report and more. If you're wanting to grow your blog, check out my blog coaching services to see how I can help you take your site to the next level.

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16 comments

  1. What in the world does the average family spend $635 on? Is that for multiple kids?
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…Who Wears the Financial Pants in Your Family?My Profile

  2. I am glad I don’t have to worry about school supplies just yet, but the spending average is quite a lot.
    Grayson @ Sprout Wealth recently posted…Do You Have What it Takes to Churn Credit Cards?My Profile

  3. I am so not ready to read this quite yet, I feel like my summer just began. 🙂 That being said, I think an important way to save money with back to school stuff is to do a full inventory of all of your kid’s clothes and supplies. I think families just buy new things to have new things when your kid probably has plenty of leftover supplies from the year previous and most of his or her clothes fit and can still be worn. Then you can shop for fall clothes when they are on sale in November.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Grocery Store ChallengeMy Profile

    • I know, it’s crazy isn’t it? They start back to school in about 2-3 weeks here in Omaha. I could not agree more with your thoughts. I know when I was growing up my parents just went out and bought all new stuff. I’m sure there were a few things I needed that would require being new, but am positive that many things could’ve just been re-used.
      John Schmoll recently posted…How to Save on Back to School ShoppingMy Profile

  4. You can also search for clothes that come in lots on Ebay in your kids size. I was doing that last night, and found some good deals. I am actually doing research today to see if Amazon is cheaper than Walmart for school supplies on our list. Should be interesting to see.
    Kim recently posted…My Thrift Store Shopping FailureMy Profile

  5. I can’t believe school is soon approaching. This whole year seems like it just flew by so quickly. I plan on doing all of my back to school shopping this weekend because it’s tax free weekend.

  6. If you can wait until after Labor Day, most stores are eager to unload their leftover inventory at a decent discount. This is especially true for some of those big-ticket items like backpacks or computer bags.
    Alicia @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted…Is there such a thing as a cheap pet?My Profile

  7. I am glad I don’t have to purchase school supplies yet. But, as having a job as a teacher, I was always heart broken to see the ads on television. Every year, they start earlier and earlier.

  8. My kids don’t go back to school for another month but we already have most of the supplies they’ll need. We usually stock up early and then hit the store again at the very end as everything gets marked down
    Mike Collins recently posted…Capital One 360 Online Savings ReviewMy Profile

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