Tips to save money on back-to-school shopping

Back to school

Back to school shopping doesn't need to take a big bite out of your wallet. Image: quinn.anya/Flickr/CC BY-SA

It may seem hard to believe, but the back-to-school shopping season is here again. But with gas and food prices on the rise and the economy still sluggish, it is important not to overspend on supplies, clothing and books. At the same time, you don’t want to cheat your kids. So here are some ways to get your little students well-supplied while keeping your belt tight at the same time.

There’s no place like home

You might begin by looking around at home. Gather up all the pencils, pens, notebooks, glue, staplers, calculators and other office supplies you might have stuck in the back of drawers. The same goes with clothing. Go through your kids’ wardrobes with them and see what things will still do, fashion-wise and practical-wise, for the school year. This will also give you a good idea of what you still need to get.

Sniff out bargains

Start scouring the newspaper and websites daily for coupons. Don’t forget the websites for your favorite box stores. That is where to find the most current bargains.

Keep in mind that often the best fall sales happen after the school season begins. You can try asking your kids if they can make do with last year’s backpacks for the first few weeks of class.

Shopping online

EBay, craigslist, and all the usual online suspects are excellent resources if one plans ahead and allows for delivery before school begins. Though it is always prudent to go with an established and known company when shopping online, there are many other online outlets that may suit your child’s needs. and have excellent prices on used books. If your child has access to a smartphone or an e-reader, books can be bought as electronic downloads for a fraction of the price of the printed versions.

Going pre-owned

Sometimes a pre-owned item is just as good as a new one, depending on what it is and the condition it is in. Thrift stores, used book stores, garage sales, consignment sales and flea markets should not be overlooked for bargain books and clothing. Finding those bargains typically requires time and effort, but it can be well worth it.

Other bargain outlets

Most dollar stores are great for supplies like paper and glue and pencils. Sometimes the quality of the items may not be up to snuff, but by being a little choosy, you can walk away with a bundle of bargains.

Brown bag it

Homemade lunches are one of the biggest ways a parent can save throughout the school year. Plus then you know what they are eating.

Teach lessons in finance

Back-to-school shopping can also provide an opportunity to teach your kids some valuable lessons. By allowing them to participate in the  bargain hunting process, they can learn about spending, priorities and budgeting firsthand.


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