7 Tips to Save Money on Back to School Shopping
The end of the summer of 2021 means school is starting again soon. As kids return to school this year, parents face unique challenges as they navigate the twists and turns COVID-19 continues to deliver. To save money and make your kids thrive in school, you’ll need good planning and creativity. This article will give you seven ways to save money on back-to-school shopping this year.
1. Start with a Strategic List
Begin by creating a back-to-school shopping budget. To accurately set a budget, you need to know what your child needs. Get your child’s list of supplies from your school and plan your attack.
Find the items on the list that are absolute must-haves for the beginning of the school year. Those items go to the top of the list. From there, look for items that won’t be needed until later in the year. This goes for clothes, too! If you buy your children a new wardrobe of clothes for the fall, it may backfire. Many children grow through rapid growth spurts, so some new clothes may suddenly be too small before being worn.
Save money on school meals with food jars from Contigo which come with matching drinks bottles in various designs and colours and most importantly are 100% leakproof. You can create your child healthy warm or cold lunches and be confident they will still be that way when they reach lunchtime. Cold food stays cold for up to 7 hours and hot stays hot for up to 6 hours. School dinners are more affordable than they used to be but they add up very quickly.
If your finances are tight, buying in “phases” can give your bank account a chance to take a breath. This strategy also can help you avoid buying duplicates, as you’ll see in the next tip.
2. Comb Through Your Kid’s Existing Supply
People lose things or forget they even own them. This is true for adults as well as kids! Before you go on a back-to-school spending spree, take an inventory of what you already have. Your child will likely be able to use supplies from last year.
Pens rarely run out of ink before they’re lost. Spiral-bound paper often gets stepped on, lost, or shuffled before all the paper is used. Crayons scatter to all corners of the house, forever separated from their box.
Make looking for supplies fun! Gather up everyone in your house and have a good old-fashioned scavenger hunt. See who can find the most supplies and reward them. You’ll have fun with your kids and save money on unneeded supplies at the same time. And when all else fails and you have to replace the odd one or two items, Clintons are great for cost-effective back to school supplies that your kids will love.
3. Exchange Supplies with Your Neighbours
Once you’ve gathered everything you can find, it’s not time to go to the store just yet. Create a “neighbourhood swap” with the other parents in your area. You may have more pencils than any thirty children could use. But your neighbour might have those elusive glue sticks you couldn’t find hiding anywhere in your house.
4. Look to Scholarships to Help Fund Supplies
If your college-bound kid has scholarships to apply for, look over the paperwork carefully. Many scholarships have stipends for books and/or supplies as part of the deal. It never hurts to look for scholarships that offer such allowances, either specifically. One key to scholarships is timing. Your child will want to start applying for scholarships no later than the summer before their senior year.
Don’t underestimate the benefits of remote learning, either. There are money-saving benefits, of course, but many kids find remote learning less stressful, as they can continue to spend more time with their families.
5. Don’t Shop in the Kids Section
All those adorable puppies, Hello Kitties, and superheroes come with hefty licensing deals. If you skip the decorated and licensed supplies, you’ll likely save a fortune. Another simple tip is to buy supplies in the business or work section of the office supply or department store. Prices drop dramatically when the companies are not marketing to kids. You’ll also teach your child a valuable lesson about the importance of smart shopping too.
You can also turn to get those generic or plain supplies into a fun activity. Encourage your child to whip out their crayons and markers and start decorating! They will feel a sense of pride and ownership with their back-to-school goodies. This can be useful in calming any going back to school jitters, especially if your child doesn’t like school, to begin with.
6. Avoid the Busiest Back-to-School Shopping Period
Shop in September and stretch your budget. While many parents don’t like the feeling of waiting until “the last minute,” it’s a good shopping strategy. It’s all about supply and demand.
If you buy school supplies during the summer, chances are you’ll pay inflated rates. Wait until after the big marketing push for back-to-school shopping has passed. Hold out until August or even early September and save money.
When companies know the big surge of back-to-school shopping has passed, they usually run sales to burn off any leftover supplies. You can save on clothes, laptops, and many other school-related expenses.
7. Get Creative
Search for creative ways to save money. Start a side hustle, such as blog writing, online tutoring, or doing product reviews.
Another easy way to stretch your budget is to install a shopping extension in your browser. Anytime you put items into an online shopping cart, the shopping extension searches for current online discount codes and deals. These deals are automatically applied to your cart, so you don’t need to do a thing.
Never underestimate the ability to find fantastic deals on new or nearly new clothing at thrift stores. Many clothing items are donated to these stores by people who have never worn those clothes.
Focus on What’s Important
If the last eighteen months have taught us anything, it’s that people can get through anything. Many of us have learned what’s really important during this pandemic. Even children are learning to appreciate what they have more than before. Set your budget, be smart, be creative, and enjoy seeing your child go back to in-person classes this year.