How to Save Money on Back to School Shopping
It’s almost time to go back to school. While this year will likely be different than most, heading back to school still means preparing for the year and shopping for clothing and supplies. Unfortunately, all this shopping can get very expensive. The good news is that there are ways to save. Here are some back to school saving tips that could help reduce your costs this year.
Look at What You Already Have
Just because it’s a new school year, it doesn’t mean that everything needs to be brand new. Before you head out to the store or start shopping online, look at what you already have at home. Check in desk drawers, closets, storage areas, filing cabinets, backpacks, etc. for supplies like pens, paper, markers, etc. There’s a good chance you have a lot of these items in your home already.
Once you’ve looked for supplies, go over at the clothes your children have. While your child may have outgrown some items and others may be too worn to wear to school, you likely have a lot of clothes left that can be worn at least one more year.
It’s important to check for what you already have before you start shopping so you know what you’re starting with.
Swap with Friends and Family
Another place to look before you buy anything else is at the homes of friends and family. Ask around if anyone has any items they don’t need. For example, people without kids may have office supplies they’re not using that could be used for school, or people with older children may be willing to part with things their children have outgrown.
In exchange, you can offer to trade things that you own but don’t need. For instance, if you have a large package of pens that contains more than your children will ever use, you can trade some of them for a few notebooks from a friend. Get creative!
Make a List
Once you’ve looked at what you already have and what you can get from friends and family, it’s important to make a list of what you still require. Making a list helps you organize yourself and only buy the things you need. It keeps you from buying “impulse buy” items or things that are on sale but that you don’t actually need.
Plus, making a list puts you in control and let’s you see exactly what you need to get. Back to school shopping can be stressful and even overwhelming, but having a list helps you focus and keeps you from getting too anxious about the process.
Shop at Garage Sales and Second-Hand Shops
Garage sales, second-hand shops, thrift shops, and other such places may have the exact back to school items you’re looking for at a significantly reduced cost. Some stores (such as thrift stores or consignment shops) may have summer sales or back to school sales that you can take advantage of.
You can also shop at online classified sites to save money on back to school shopping. However, if you do this, it’s important to shop from trusted sellers. If something seems “too good to be true,” it likely is and that could mean you may want to stay away.
Use the Dollar Store
Your neighbourhood dollar store can be the perfect place to buy pencils, pens, paper, notebooks, and various other supplies. Depending on where you live and the store you choose, you can likely find the exact same items at a dollar store as you would find at a more expensive office supplies store, but at a fraction of the price.
Give Yourself Time to Comparison Shop
Different stores have different prices and you probably already know that. However, it takes times to compare prices at different retailers. If you leave your back to school shopping until the last minute, you won’t give yourself the time you need to find the best deals.
When you’re comparison shopping, focus on the more expensive items because these prices often vary more. It’s better to save $100 on a laptop or $20 on a pair of shoes than it is to spend time trying to save a dollar on a package of pens. You have only so much time, so use it wisely.
You Don’t Need Everything Now
It’s important to realize that you don’t need to buy everything for the school year right now. Yes, some items will be needed right away, but you don’t need to get everything all at once. You can buy a few outfits and some supplies now, then wait until later in the school year to get other other items as you need them. This not only saves you from having to spend a huge amount all at once, but it also allows you to take advantage of sales throughout the year.