It’s back-to-school shopping time and, like many parents, you may be looking for ways to keep money in your pocket instead of stuffing it in your child’s backpack.
With registration fees, school supplies, new shoes and clothes, the cost of back-to-school shopping can really add up.
We’ve put together a list of our top tips to follow for back-to-school shopping on a budget.
Shop at home
Reusing and recycling isn’t just environmentally friendly but also easier on the pocketbook. Look for barely used school supplies around the house and don’t be afraid to send them back to school.
Recently, I gathered up all of the “school-approved” scissors we had around the house. I counted six! I also have enough pink erasers to stock an entire classroom. It’s nice to mark things off of the list before we even leave the house.
Shop early and a little at a time
Most students in the Champaign-Urbana area will be heading back to school in just a couple of weeks so if you’ve already gotten some items checked off your list, you are ahead of the game. Shopping early and buying a little bit at a time will help you spread out the cost. (If you don’t know when your child’s first day of school is, check out our Champaign-Urbana Metro Area School Start Dates).
However, if you haven’t even started shopping yet, don’t feel too bad. Plenty of retailers cater to procrastinators and offer great discounts right up until the first day of school.
Don’t overbuy clothes
With school starting in mid-August, there isn’t much of a need to rush out and buy new jeans and sweatshirts. Push some of that off until it gets a bit cooler. Buy the kids new shoes and shop the end of summer sales for new shorts and t-shirts if you need them. We all know kids will be wearing t-shirts well into the fall and winter months anyway.
Keep an eye out for sales
My email inbox seems to be full of coupons from my favorite kids clothing stores right now. The Children’s Place, Gymboree, and The Gap have all offered some great deals recently, even if some only last a day.
Check the Sunday ads or go online to find deals on school supplies. Or check out this nifty tool from Penny Pinchin’ Mom that compares prices on school supplies.
Stick to the list
If you’re a child of the 80’s, you may not be able to resist your child’s plea for that Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper or those nostalgic scented markers, but try your best to stick to what is on the teacher-approved list. Those “extras” can really add up, especially if you are buying for more than one child.
Back-to-school shopping is also a great opportunity to teach your kids about budgeting. Start by setting a dollar amount and let them pick out the items on the list without going over the budget.
Listen to advice
We asked our Facebook readers for their advice on back-to-school shopping. Here are some of their responses:
“Straight to Wal-Mart. You will find everything you require. Just don’t leave it too late because people get pushy and it can be really unpleasant. I tend to go on the last week of July.”
“Target has pretty much always been my go-to. My biggest tip is for the end of the year though, I always take what my kids bring home from school and put it up in the closet things I know can be used again, scissors, art boxes that aren’t broken, clipboards, etc. Then the supply list gets smaller each year.”
“As a teacher I suggest asking the teacher if she wants you to hold back your tissue and disinfecting wipes until December. Kindergarten teachers usually get tons of these and then are sometimes low during cold/flu season.”
“Staples has some great sales going on now, and Office Depot is having 1 cent deals. I do a lot of dollar store for ziplock bags, Kleenex etc.”
“Walmart for sure. Just got all our first grade supplies for $33.”
Are you a savvy back to school shopper? Share your best frugal tips with us!