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Back to School Shopping: Money Saving Tips

Yes, it’s almost time for back to school once again! If you have children, you know that kids need A LOT of things when they return for another school year. Plus, there are always a few items that your child may not need, but that they really, really want. All of the purchases you’ll need to buy can get overwhelming – and expensive!

Here are some tips for saving money on back to school shopping.

Create a Budget

Before you head out to shop, you’ll need to come up with a budget. Then, when you actually hit the stores, you’ll have to stick to this budget. Think about what you need, how much you have available to spend, and then try to portion it out into categories. List how much you’re going to spend on clothing, on school supplies, on electronics, etc. and then make sure everything balances. If you overspend in one category, you’ll need to reduce another to make sure it all fits.

Make a List

Making a list goes hand-in-hand with making a budget. You’ll need to sit down and write out a detailed list of everything you’ll need. Depending on the ages, your children may be able to help with this. Their school may have provided you with a classroom supply list, but that’s likely not all you’ll need. Talk to your child about what they think they’ll need and discuss with other parents as well. Sometimes it’s easy to go overboard with back to school shopping, so making a realistic list and sticking to it can help avoid this issue. Bring your list with you when you shop and check items off as you buy them.

Comparison Shop

Don’t just shop at the first store you see. Different stores will have different prices, even for identical items. You might not need to physically go from store-to-store to compare. Many stores list their products online and there are websites that list store flyers to make it easy to check out prices without the hassle.

Check Online

Some online retailers will have lower prices than you can find in bricks-and-mortar stores. Browse around, compare products, and read reviews. You might not be able to find the exact same products on the internet, but with some careful shopping, you could find a good deal on something similar. You’ll want to make sure that you buy from reputable sellers and pay attention to shipping costs. If you find an item that’s $10 cheaper online, but shipping costs $25, then you’re not really saving.

Check What You Already Have

Once you’ve made your list, but before you shop, check around your home and make sure you don’t currently have a lot of the stuff you’re looking for. You might be able to reuse some items from the previous school year or you might realize that you actually don’t need some of the things you expected to need.

Ask your kids if they like their current binders, backpacks, etc. If they still like them and they’re in good condition, there’s nothing wrong with reusing them for another school year.

Look for Sales

There are always “back to school” sales running at various stores as summer vacation comes to an end. It might be in your best interest to wait for one of these sales before you go shopping. However, don’t be swayed by an “on sale” sign. Some stores are simply more expensive than others and an item that is on sale at one store might still be more expensive than a similar item at a discount store, for example.

Teach Your Kids About Budgeting

Back to school time can be a great opportunity to teach your children about money and budgeting. This is an important lesson that will serve them well in the future. Depending on their age, you can have them help you prepare a budget, comparison shop, or manage money.

You can also speak with them about the importance of prioritizing their purchases. It’s important that children know that they need to plan for purchases and that, sometimes, everything they want doesn’t fit into a budget. This doesn’t mean that they can’t get what they need, but they’ll have to prioritize and make their purchases fit into a budget.