A brand new school year will be starting up soon and retailers have already busted out the back-to-school ads.
Back-to-school shopping can be a bittersweet thing for parents. On one hand, you may be excited to see your kids conquer another grade level and reunite with all of their friends, but on the other hand, you probably aren’t excited to shop for supplies.
This time of year always creeps up on me because I tend to make a conscious effort to enjoy the summer season to the fullest with my family which sometimes results in spending a little more money. Then August rolls around and I am faced with spending more money on school supplies and gadgets, which is usually not a problem because I budget for it, but it can cause many parents to overspend especially if you have more than one child.
This year, I’m committing to spending less on school supplies while still equipping my child with everything he needs for school. Here are a few tips to help you save money as well.
Check For Inventory at Home
Before you go out and shop for school supplies, reorganize your home and see if you have any supplies left over from the previous year. At the end of the school year, teachers usually send supplies back that haven’t been used.
Whether it’s paper, folders, or sticky notes, I always hold on to these supplies so I can use them for the following year. We have tons of paper in our house and I’m sure my son has a few pencils and erasers lying around along with his old crayon box which we plan to reuse. If you have more than one child, see if there are and hand-me-downs you can make good use of for the next child.
Another thing you can reuse year after year is your child’s backpack. There’s really no need to buy a new backpack year after year if it’s still in tact and functions fine. We try to avoid character backpacks in case my son loses interest in the character but if we do purchase fun backpacks, I make it clear that we’re going to keep it around for at least 2 or 3 years.
Backpacks will last even longer if you take care of them. I still have my backpack from high school. I used it all throughout college and still use it every now and then when I take day trips or go camping.
Check Out Community Back-to-School Giveaways
Some communities have fun events in August to celebrate back-to-school season. At these free events, they also give away school supplies on a first come, first served basis. Check with your town or nearby communities to see if they are hosting any of these events.
I did some research and found a few events in my area and one that I went to a few years ago even had an organization that was giving away food to families along with a barber who was giving all the little boys free haircuts.
You may just receive basic supplies like notebooks, paper, pencils, and crayons, but it’s still helpful and allows you to mark a few things off your list that you don’t have to pay for.
Compare Pricing in Popular Ads
Several retailers advertise their back-to-school promotions. Make sure you compare their offers side by side to see who is offering the best brands with the lowest prices. Sometimes brands aren’t everything though and generic items will do just fine.
If you do come across name brand items, buy them because you like the quality and not because you like the name. I personally don’t even look at brands too often when I buy school supplies because I know most items will serve their purpose no matter who made them.
Another thing you can do is check out your local dollar store to see if you can get any items there at a lower price. Retailers like Target and Walmart offer some pretty good deals though which might be lower than dollar store prices but it doesn’t hurt to take a minute or two to check and compare so you can get more bang for your buck.
Even if you don’t like coupons, this is the perfect time of year to use them for school supplies. If you know you need to buy quite a few new items, you might at well save by printing off or cutting out a coupon to use.
See if any of the back-to-school sales ads have coupons on the flier. If not, you can always go online and print off coupons to use at your favorite retailers. Target, Walmart, and Groupon Coupons all have back-to-school coupons.
If you are a procrastinator or the opposite and like to prepare in advance, I’d highly recommend biting the bullet and joining the back-to-school shopping craze.
Yes, the stores may be a little crazy will be cashing in on your needs to make a quick buck, but there are still plenty of opportunities to score deals and save money on school supplies. Plus, you only have to stop once a year.
Have you started shopping for school supplies yet? How do you keep those expenses low?