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Back to School

7 Ways to Save on Back-to-School Shopping

Congratulations! You’ve made it through another summer. This past year has been especially challenging, so going back to school will be unique in unexpected ways. Start your back-to-school shopping early, giving you time to find ways to save money on your children’s supplies. And while you’re at it, check out these money-saving tips and possible solutions you might not have considered.

7 Ways to Save on Back-to-School Shopping

1. Create a Budget, Then Prioritize, and Eliminate

Start by setting priorities. What does your child really need to have? Sit down and make a list of needed supplies. Order the list from ‘Must Have’ to ‘Should Have’ and end with ‘Do I Really Need This?’

Then create a budget for your back-to-school needs. When you make a budget, you are giving yourself a roadmap. You need to know where you’re going before you get there! Your budget will dictate just how deep into the list you go before waving the white flag. The items on the ‘Do I Really Need This’ section of your list can always be picked up later.

2. Look for Ways to Make Extra Money

There are many ways to make extra cash. It doesn’t matter if you are a stay-at-home parent or someone with a part-time or full-time job. Oh, and the easiest way is to find remote work opportunities. That way, you can get a few hours in when you have the time wherever’s best for you that day.

Companies everywhere are looking for bloggers, social media managers, and more. If you like sharing stories with lessons or fun ideas, writing may be perfect for you. With these types of roles, you’re often asked to write about life experiences or life hacks to help others get ahead.

Another idea is teaching a class online. Do you have a skill people want? Are you an expert on an interesting topic? Community colleges, libraries, and other venues are often looking for presenters. To find opportunities, look at your community’s websites. Check your library’s social media pages. You can get paid to talk about something you enjoy.

3. Get Automatic Online Shopping Discounts

You can find online coupons and discount codes when shopping online. An even easier way to save money is by using online shopping extensions like Capital One Shopping or Honey. These are simple to use and install. Once you find one you like, install it, and the extension does the work for you.

As you shop, the extension searches the Internet for discount codes and specials. Once it finds them, it applies the codes to your shopping cart as you check out. They are secure, easy to use, and save you the time you would have spent digging around for coupons.

Another form of automatic savings in online shopping is military discounts. If you or someone in your immediate family has served in the military, ask about veteran discounts. Many online and offline retailers offer such discounts but do not always mention them. Just ask to find out. Many veteran discounts are for 20% or more, which can add up to significant savings.

4. Look for Creative Ways to Save Money

Many experts give useful advice on saving money, such as eliminating credit card debt. They will recommend carpooling to run errands or go to work. Another easy hack is to buy generic supplies. You can save big money by avoiding products with pictures of popular characters. There are, however, more unusual or creative ways to save money for back-to-school shopping.

Start by digging through your kids’ school supplies from last year. Did you buy your kids a large package of pencils or pens? How often does a ballpoint pen run out of ink? It’s likely many are still hiding somewhere in their rooms. Find supplies from last year, save a little money, and teach your kids a quick lesson about reducing waste!

Are you active in your school’s parent-teacher group? Plan a supply swap where parents gather up the unused supplies from last year and get together. Maybe Joyce has the markers you need, and you have the notebook paper she needs. Both of you win!

Another creative way to save money is by spending money. Are you buying your kid a new laptop or tablet for school? Protect your investments by looking at quality computer surge protectors, carrying cases, and other ways to keep electronics safe.

5. Jump on Scholarship Opportunities

If your teen is a junior in high school, summer is the best time to start looking for available scholarships. Help your teen plan which scholarships to apply for. Teens who enjoy writing can use their written skills to apply for essay scholarships. Students who get high grades can apply for merit-based scholarships. Sports scholarships usually involve reaching out to the coaches or athletic directors of target colleges.

6. Take a Good Look at Your Kids’ Wardrobes

Many parents rush out to buy their kids an entire collection of new clothes. Sometimes this happens because they’ve outgrown what they own. Maybe their old clothes are ripped, torn, or faded.

Not every article of clothing is useless, however. Dig through the closet, and chances are you’ll find clothes in the near-new condition that still fit. These will be the same clothes your kid “just had to have” but went mostly unused all year.

Look at what is wearable and buy what your child needs to start the school year. You can spread the clothing shopping out over several months, saving you money in the short term. Further into the school year (or when the next growth spurt hits), you can do more shopping as needed.

7. Start Early and Stick to Your List

Prepare for your shopping early. Many retailers start their back-to-school-specials mid-summer or even earlier. Keep your eyes open for the sales. If shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, compare prices between stores. Watch for quality too. Just because something is cheaper at Store A doesn’t mean you should grab it. If Store B’s selection is a little more expensive, look at quality. You’ll save money on replacements in the long run.

Are your kids joining you on the hunt? Sit down with them before you leave. Explain that you’ll be sticking to the list. You can reward good behavior with one inexpensive “extra” purchase later.

Wrapping Up

Start your back-to-school shopping with a plan. If you create a budget and stick to it, you can use it as a teaching exercise. The earlier children are taught the value of money, the better they will handle it later in life. Shopping for school supplies can also be used to bond with your teenager. Get creative, have fun, save money, and enjoy the start of a new school year. Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for a parenting job well done.

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Bea

Bea is a passionate writer, part-time foodie, and full-time dog dad. He specializes in topic areas including education, lifestyle and finance.

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