Each late summer and early fall, shoppers everywhere will have back to school needs on their minds. When you figure in supplies, new clothes and all the other details, school shopping can quickly add up to a lot of money. What’s a budget conscious parent to do?
Fortunately, there are ways to seriously slash your expenses when it comes to this type of shopping. Here are 8 ways to save a lot of money when it’s time to shop for school.
Study the sales.
Start any back to school shopping adventure by carefully checking the sales in your area. Many stores put all kinds of items on sale this time of year, making it the perfect time to buy an item like a computer or even small appliances.
Gather up your local store flyers and check online for deals at your favorite stores. That way you can carefully plan where you will want to spend your money.
Keep in mind that some stores offer to match or beat prices advertised by the competition.
Remember online auction sites.
Sites like eBay are bursting with great items like children’s clothing just before school starts. Lots of people have barely used and even new garments that they can no longer use. You can reap the rewards when a motivated seller wants to quickly get an item out of the house.
Learn to put a watch on certain items and bid low. Sometimes you can get amazing bargains.
Pop into thrift stores and consignment stores.
Many people donate outgrown children’s clothes and other items to thrift stores, so don’t overlook these gems as a way of getting some incredible stuff for next to nothing. Thrift shops often have promotions where all clothing is ridiculously inexpensive on certain days of the week. Yes, you may have to wade through the junk to find the best deals, but it’s worth the hassle.
Try shopping thrift stores in more affluent local areas. They are often filled with hidden treasures.
Consignment stores cost a little bit more than thrift stores but you are less likely to have to sort through items of lower quality, and you can still find some great deals.
Study clearance racks.
Stores are always significantly cutting prices on some items to make way for new shipments, so it pays off to stalk the clearance section at your favorite stores.
You will often find that clothing perfect for wearing right now is marked down because the store needs to make room for upcoming seasons. In most places, your kids can still wear warm weather clothing well into the fall or even beyond.
Swap with friends.
Never underestimate the value of friends when it comes to back to school shopping. Kids are constantly outgrowing clothes, so it’s very likely that you know someone whose child has just grown out of clothing in your child’s current size.
Ask your friends if they have gently worn clothes and consider organizing a swap online. Clothing swaps are fun, and they save everyone a lot of money.
Get some items in bulk.
Think about what you can buy in bulk and team up with other shoppers to get the deals. For example, if you have 10 friends whose children each need one box of tissues for the school year, you can save big bucks by purchasing a huge supply of them at a big box store. The same is true for all kinds of school supplies like pencils and markers as well as for some clothing like socks.
Buying in bulk is almost always cheaper than buying a single item, so ask around to see who has the same school shopping needs that you have.
Consider the whole year.
Buying clothing in advance can be tricky because you don’t know when or how much your child is going to grow. However, there are some things you can safely buy in advance. If you see a great deal on something your child is likely to need in the winter or spring, go ahead and snag it.
You can also stock up on items like toys for birthday gifts throughout the year, products like toothpaste and deodorant and other things that you know you will eventually need. Find a drawer or a space in the closet to hang on to this stuff until you are ready for it.
Take advantage of tax holidays.
Many states offer free sales tax for a day or two before school starts. Take advantage of this by doing the bulk of your shopping on those days.
You can search online to find out if your state offers a back to school tax break. Some states allow you to apply this to clothing, school supplies and even electronics. Be sure to read the fine print because the tax break may be available for items only up to a certain value.
Several states don’t have sales tax at all or have no sales tax on things like clothing. If you live near one of these states, the savings can be worth the drive.
Back to school shopping doesn’t have to set you back financially. By shopping smart and applying these tips, you can save a lot of money on everything your family needs to get the school year started right.