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As summer draws to an end and families prepare for their final vacations of the season, it’s time for parents to turn their attention to back-to-school shopping.
August marks the beginning of back-to-school notices, which prepare kids and their parents for the upcoming school year. Aside from outlining which items their kids need for the year ahead, this list also helps parents reduce unnecessary expenses and last-minute rushes to the store.
The cost of school supplies increases every year, and 2021 is no different; according to the National Retail Federation, back-to-school shopping is expected to reach a record $37.1 billion this year, an all-time high. Families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend on average of $848.90 on school items—an increase of $59 compared to last year—while college students and their families plan to spend an average of $1,200.32, a $141 increase.
With those figures in mind, here are nine ways you can save a dime or two.
1. Inventory first
Before you start shopping for school supplies, take stock of what you have at home. See if you can repurpose some supplies from previous years. You may find leftover packs of pencils, erasers, or unused notepads.
2. Shop clearances and sales
We always recommend supporting your local small businesses, so we suggest shopping local to start. If you can’t find what you’re looking for locally, many retail chains offer weekly clearance deals, especially during back-to-school season. Places like Target and Walmart have an abundance of supplies, but don’t forget about dollar stores, where you can save even more. Plus, make sure you sign up for free loyalty and reward programs, which can save you on other purchases down the road.
Don’t forget about couponing! Many retailers such as Target and Walmart publish coupons in the local newspaper and online to help you save more. Plus, some retailers even allow you to use more than one coupon code.
Hand-me-downs work great for back-to-school shopping. Be sure that the clothing is in good condition and fits your child well. If you have friends, family members, neighbors, or coworkers who are willing to give you these items, take advantage!
5. Thrift stores and online secondhand options
Facebook Marketplace lets you browse a relevancy-sorted feed of things to buy from people who live nearby. Craigslist is another option to consider for saving big bucks on school supplies.
6. Go online
It seems like everyone has an Amazon Prime account, so take advantage of free shipping. Not only is it great for last-minute shopping, but it’s also very convenient.
7. Split bulk deals
Scoring bulk deals on school supplies is another great way to save money, especially if you find other parents willing to split the expense. If buying in bulk means major savings, why not consider shopping with other parents or taking advantage of a friend’s Costco membership?
8. Think ahead
For many back-to-school shoppers, it can be difficult to think ahead to February when you’re sweating in the August heat. But, you may be able to save up to 70% when you shop ahead of the season. You can shop for winter clothes in February and stock up on summer gear in September.
The same goes for sporting equipment and even seasonal shoes. Buying sandals in February might lead to the cashier giving you a weird look, but it will save you money the coming summer. Also consider buying two different sizes for your children. That way you can avoid another shopping spree when your kids have a growth spurt in the middle of the school year.
9. Price match
Make sure you read up on the store’s price-match policy. Certain stores allow you to purchase an item at another store’s discounted price. You can try price matching at stores like Staples, Target, and Nordstrom, to name a few.
Additionally, think about stocking up during sales or buying in bulk for things that aren’t uber trendy, or for one-size-fits-all essentials such as backpacks and accessories.
Finally, don’t get caught up in buying the newest, coolest thing. Some items such as instruments, sporting equipment, and accessories such as backpacks can be stretched for more than one year.
When is the right time to shop?
Back-to-school sales usually start in July and run through late August or early September. Many retailers have discounts year-round, so you can always find discounts, especially if you look hard enough.
Whether your kids are starting their first job or heading off to college, our Student Checking account can help them manage their money from anywhere. Learn more!