9 Tips for Smart Back to School Shopping
Overwhelmed with back to school shopping? It doesn’t have to be that way with a little planning. Here are a few tips to help keep a smile on your face this back to school season.
1. Find out what you can reuse. Find out what you can reuse from last year before you start shopping. Backpacks, calculators, rulers, scissors, and binders are all items that can last more than one year. Organize your supplies in one location to determine if you really need new items, as well as how much is needed. To make things fresh, let your child decorate and personalize some of these items for the new school year.
2. Start shopping now. If you haven’t already started your back to school shopping, now is the perfect time because many retailers have really good deals you’ll want to grab. If you don’t already have your school supply list, stock up on the basics (pencils, paper, notebooks, etc) and wait until you know exactly what you need for all the extras.
For example, Staples has FREE Post-It notes after rebate this week (August 5-11, 2012) and Office Max has FREE Composition books with a $5 purchase. You’ll find new loss-leader products at the office supply stores each week and by stocking up on products that are free or less than $.50 - $1, you’ll be able to save throughout the school year.
Not sure you want to visit a bunch of different stores? Look at ads online, and then price-match the sales at Walmart.
Clothing & Shoes:
3. Shop online for your new clothes and shoes from your favorite retailers. Not only can use you coupon codes online, but many offer FREE shipping to your home or the store nearest you. The selection of styles and sizes will be greater online, and many times the online prices will be lower.
Find a great deal? Buy ahead for future savings. Right now is a great time to grab summer clothes for cheap for next summer. Look for Buy 1 Get 1 FREE sales on shoes and/or clothes to grab extras that will last all year.
4. Shop thrift or consignment stores. Although this may take more work to find the right outfit, it is worth the bargains you’ll find. Shirts, shorts, and pants average around $1-$5 at thrift stores compared to $10-$20 at local bargain stores. If your school requires uniforms, checking a consignment shop near the school may help you save on new items. Kids grow so fast, that gently used clothing may have only been worn a few times.
5. Host a clothing exchange with friends and family. Make a party out of it and ask people to bring their gently used clothing to exchange. Divide up the clothes by gender and size and let each person shop for their new attire. Each person gives away clothes that don’t fit and gets to pick up new ones for the new school year. After everyone has made their picks, donate or sell clothes that are left over.
6. Buy Reusable Lunches are expensive, so plan on making your child’s lunch throughout the year by purchasing reusable lunch and drink containers. You’ll also want to buy reusable snack cups (for sides) and silverware so you don’t have to keep purchasing these items all year long.
7. Make Homemade. Stay away from higher priced packaged goods by making your own sandwiches, pudding cups, fruit containers, and bagged vegetables. Bag snack items, such as crackers or veggies, early in the week to help save your time, too. You can pre-make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, freeze them, and then let them thaw in your child’s lunchbox the day of to help, too.
8. Know your budget. You don’t have to go in debt for back to school shopping by knowing exactly what you can spend. Follow the list of items you know you need, make sure you buy the lowest prices, and stick to the amount you can spend this season. Your kids won’t hate you if you can’t afford to get all the latest gadgets, just make them understand what you can and can’t spend money on.
9. Get your kids involved. In everything I’ve mentioned here, have your kids help you so they understand the challenges, and so they can take ownership to their items. Having them help make decisions on what is needed, what should be bought, and what can just be reused is a skill they will need for more than just back to school shopping.