6 Ways to Maximize Back-to-School Savings

by on Aug 8 2013 - 30 Comments

Back to School Shopping

Today we have a post from our regular contributor Kyle James. Enjoy!

According to the National Retail Federation, the average student and parent is planning to spend a whopping $635 on back-to-school supplies this year. As school buying lists tend to get bigger every year, it often leaves many parents scrambling to figure out how they are going to afford it. With a little creative planning and timely purchasing, you can really save a bundle of cash when shopping for back-to-school this year. Here are six tips to get you pointed in the right direction.

Shop Around Your House

Obviously the first thing you have to do is grab your child’s school supply list and start figuring out what you need to buy. But before you head to the store to start spending, check every nook and cranny of your home for supplies you may already own. Check closets, old backpacks, and drawers for school supplies that still have some life in them. Get your child involved in this process so they are aware of what you have and what you need. This will greatly reduce their ability to say “I need this or that” once you actually go shopping. For example, if you get to the store and they see a backpack that they just can’t live without, you can tell them, “No, remember that we checked out your backpack yesterday and it is just fine for this year.”

Shop Now and Shop Weekly

Most national stores put out a weekly list of their loss leaders, which are items they are willing to take a loss on in order to entice you into the store. Do a quick Google search and you’ll find them. Check store loss leaders weekly from now until school starts and only buy the supplies when they are at their lowest price. If you have the time, do this with several stores and you can really maximize your savings. Stay consistent and only buy the loss leaders every week and by the time school rolls around you will have saved significant cash.

Shop Summer Clearance

Many clothing stores are starting to put summer clothing on their clearance racks as they make room for new fall styles. So when you go shopping for new clothing for back-to-school, always start at the clearance rack and pick up items like polo shirts, khaki shorts, dresses, and t-shirts for pennies on the dollar. You have a solid two months in most areas of the country before your kids will start needing warmer clothing. Also, this would be a great time to buy clearance clothing for next summer and fall. Just buy a size or two larger and store the items until they fit your kids.

Check Office Supply, Grocery, & Craft Stores

Everyone tends to get caught up with the Wal-Marts and Targets of the world when it comes to back-to-school shopping. The truth of the matter is many office supply and craft stores have some pretty incredible deals available right now. Don’t forget to check their ads before making any purchases. Also, many grocery stores have an aisle dedicated to back-to-school supplies and are often worth your attention. For example, Kroger supermarket currently has pencils, binders, and pens on sale at prices that compare with your big-box supercenters. Publix is also known to offer “buy 1 get 1 free” deals on pencils, binders, and pens.

Only Buy Must-Haves Before School Starts

Buy all your school “must-haves” like pencils, binders, and glue sticks before school starts but wait until after school starts on stuff your child might not need right away. The reason is because by the middle of September many stores will be trying desperately to clear their shelves of back-to-school supplies to make room for Halloween and Christmas items. This is great news for you as you’ll be able to finish off your child’s supply list on the cheap. It is also a great time to stock up for next year and store the items until your child will need them.

Tax-Free Weekend in Early August

For the first weekend in August, many states are offering a tax free weekend to encourage back-to-school spending. If your state is one of the over 25 participating, it would be a great weekend to buy larger items as the savings is significant. Many states have a sales tax rate hovering around 8% to 10%. Check this list from TaxAdmin.org to see if your state is participating: http://www.taxadmin.org/fta/rate/sales_holiday.html

The bottom-line is that with a little planning and homework your back-to-school shopping doesn’t have to blow a huge hole in your budget. Here are a few back-to-school coupons that can help you maximize your savings even further.

Kohl’s.com
Save 15% Off your $100+ purchase + Free Shipping
Coupon Code: RMN15OFF
Expiration: 8/10/13
All coupons for: Kohls.com

Lands’ End.com
Save 30% off their Dorm Collection w/ Free Shipping on $50+
Coupon Code: DORMS and PIN 1321
Expiration: 8/15/13
All coupons for: Lands’ End

Office Depot.com
Back-to-School coupon – $5 off $50, $15 off $100, or $25 off $150
Coupon Code: None Needed
Expiration: 8/06/13
All coupons for: Office Depot

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About Kyle James: He is the founder of a website titled Rather-Be-Shopping.com, which lists money saving back-to-school coupons for popular stores like Old Navy, Kohl’s, Wal-Mart, Target, Office Depot, and American Eagle to name a few.
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Photo by Morgan
 

30 comments
AlexandraRSF
AlexandraRSF

The "Shop Around Your House" tip is such a good idea. I get very excited to go back to school, and love buying myself new pens and notebooks, because "they'll help me concentrate better!" Right. I cleaned out my office the other day and found close to 30 1/4-1/2 used notebooks! I pulled all the old notes out, filed them with my school records, and now am set pretty much for the rest of my school life, forever.

Monicaonmoney
Monicaonmoney

Buying things on sale all year round and saving them is another way to spend less money. That way, you're not spending a large amount of cash all at once for supplies.

Eyesonthedollar
Eyesonthedollar

Walgreen's sometimes has really cheap loss leaders around this time as well. I am tempted to buy a bunch of new clothes for our daughter, but they will be much cheaper in a couple of months. I think we can make due until then, or if we're really lucky, Granny will send a back to school package!

KyleJames1
KyleJames1

@Eyesonthedollar Good tip on Walgreens. Gotta love loss leaders, we just bought a bunch of spiral notebooks at Walmart for 17 cents each!

JourneytoSaving
JourneytoSaving

I always liked shopping for new school supplies - mostly pens. However, very early in my life, somehow my grandma compiled a huge bag of notebooks, paper, binders, folders, etc. and it still exists to this day! It lasted me throughout college. My mom donated it to her job before she retired. I always see grocery stores having supplies on sale for $1. Speaking of, the dollar store can be pretty helpful, too!

KyleJames1
KyleJames1

@JourneytoSaving The dollar store can have some hidden gems for sure although I tend to worry about the quality of some of their off-brands.

MicrosMissions
MicrosMissions

Just looked at the link and saw clothes are included in the sales tax holiday where I live.  Might be a good time to get some work shirts at a cheaper price! :)

FrugalRules
FrugalRules

I think shopping the clearance sales are huge. That's when we try and do any true clothes shopping we do. Like others have said, reusing last year's stuff is a big one as well.

KyleJames1
KyleJames1

@FrugalRules Hey John, good point. Old Navy right now has some amazing clearance deals on clothing.

Tara Zee
Tara Zee

I was guilty of always wanting new things for the school year but I generally could only get the needed stuff.  I think it's a good that you point that out, especially because if your kid wants a cool new backpack, there's a good chance it'll go on crazy clearance sale after the school year has started.  

OneSmartDollar
OneSmartDollar

Stores run so many sales on back to school items.  I am always seeing the store ads where you can buy things for $0.01 or $0.05.

RFIndependence
RFIndependence

My teachers always wanted new stuff for the new school year, my mum was really annoyed it was such a waste, then my college years I don't think I bought anything and just used the leftover supplies from school.

SingleMomIncome
SingleMomIncome

My kids aren't school aged yet so I don't have to worry about clothes shopping. However I do like to take advantage of back to school sales for art supplies and then save them for Christmas presents.

MoneyBulldog
MoneyBulldog

It's amazing what you have lying about the place hidden away in drawers isn't it. Staplers, pencils, pens and more. Some great tips here.

AverageJoeMoney
AverageJoeMoney

Great tip on focusing your attention only on "must haves." When my kids were in kindergarten and first grade we piled up on all of the "recommended" supplies. Many of those sat around the house forever.....we got smarter as they aged.

Matt @ Mom and Dad Money
Matt @ Mom and Dad Money

With anything like this, trying to shop just after the main season is always a good idea. Demand just disappears and prices have to go down too.

BudgetBlonde
BudgetBlonde like.author.displayName 1 Like

Such a good idea to shop for the rest of extras after school starts. Gosh I love school supplies. Only thing I miss haha!

KyleJames1
KyleJames1

@BudgetBlonde My wife and I discovered this tip a couple years ago it really does work and save money.

Holly at ClubThrifty
Holly at ClubThrifty

My daughter is going to kindergarten next year and I am so sad about it!  I'll be back-to-school shopping for sure!  I really can't believe it.

snarkfinance
snarkfinance

YourDailyFin took the words right out of my mouth... use the same stuff from last year.

YourDailyFin
YourDailyFin

This year we are shopping for 2 preteens and have spent more money then we wanted to.  We went shopping early and got the things we know they will need but these schools for some reason want to wait until the last minute to tell you things to get.  We did find a lot of paper and pencils from last year so that help.  Pays to look in the kids closet.