13 Unique Ways to Save Money on Back to School Shopping
If you are like most parents, you’re looking at ways to save money on back to school shopping.
Between gas prices and inflation, the idea of spending a ton of money on school supplies and new clothes for kids is stressing many parents out.
A recent survey found, “Parents are worried about being able to fill backpacks thanks to ongoing supply chain issues, up 9 percentage points between April and May. The survey found that two-thirds of parents are very concerned about how inflation will impact school shopping.”¹
Inflation is hitting most industries – including school supplies. Sources suggest the price of school materials may rise by 10 to 25%.²
Take notebooks, for example. Since the price of paper pulp has gone up by almost 70%, notebooks and notebook paper are bound to be significantly more expensive this school year.³
It’s no wonder parents want to save money on back to school shopping.
In addition to common ways to save money on back to school shopping like couponing or hitting up sales, here are 13 ways to get all the supplies you need without breaking the bank.
#1 Host a Clothing Swap
New clothes are one of the biggest expenses on the back to school shopping list. And parents tend to make costly mistakes when it comes to filling their kids’ closets.
They buy all new clothes when they could save money by swapping with friends. This is even easier if your kids attend schools with uniforms.
You are not the only parent who is looking to save money on back to school shopping, so host a clothing swap.
Invite families to bring over gently used clothing items to swap with one another. Your kid will get a new wardrobe without you having to spend a dime.
This tip will work better for younger kids who either are too young to know they’ll be wearing secondhand clothes or don’t care yet.
#2 Shop Your House
Another mistake parents make is buying everything on the back to school supply list. This is a mistake because you likely already have many of the supplies in your home.
If the list calls for highlighters, hand sanitizer, or paper towels, you probably already have some in your home.
Likewise, look through the supplies your kid had last year for school. You may find many of the items you need that can be recycled for another school year, such as notebooks and pens.
#3 Buy Secondhand
There is no shame in buying clothing and school supplies secondhand.
Visit the campus bookstore or online bookstores for used textbooks. Head to consignment shops for clothing. Shop at Goodwill for bookbags. Buy sports gear from Play It Again Sports.
#4 Head to the Dollar Store
You’d be amazed at what you can buy at the Dollar Store – including name-brand pens, such as Bic. They also sell basics such as notebook paper, markers, scissors, etc.
Plus, you can use coupons at the Dollar Store, which means you can sometimes get items for only $0.25.
#5 Follow Stores Online
Be sure to follow online the retailers you plan to visit for back to school shopping. Sign up for their mailing lists to get special coupons and alerts about sales. Follow them on social media to get exclusive deals.
Some stores, such as Belk, offer even bigger discounts if you shop using their app.
#6 Save Big Purchases for Tax-Free Weekends
Are there any big-ticket items on your back to school shopping list, such as computers?
Save these big purchases for tax-free weekends.⁴
- Alabama: July 15 – 17, 2022 (clothing, computers, books, and school supplies)
- Arkansas: August 6 – 7, 2022 (clothing and school supplies)
- Connecticut: August 21 – 27, 2022 (clothing and footwear)
- Florida: July 25 – August 7, 2022 (school supplies, clothing, and computers)
- Illinois (reduced rate: 1.25%): August 5 – 14 (clothing and school supplies)
- Iowa: August 5 – 6, 2022 (clothing and footwear)
- Maryland: August 14 – 20, 2022 (clothing, footwear, and a backpack or bookbag)
- Massachusetts: August TBD 2022 (most purchases under $2,500)
- Mississippi: July 29 – 30, 2022 (clothing, footwear, and school supplies)
- Missouri: August 5 – 7, 2022 (clothing, computers, and school supplies)
- New Mexico: August 5 – 7, 2022 (clothing, computers, computer equipment, and school supplies)
- Ohio: August 5 – 7, 2022 (clothing and school supplies)
- Oklahoma: August 5 – 7, 2022 (clothing and footwear)
- South Carolina: August 5 – 7, 2022 (clothing, school supplies, and computers)
- Tennessee: July 29 – 31, 2022 (clothing, school supplies, and computers)
- Texas: August 5 – 7, 2022 (clothing, backpacks, and school supplies)
- West Virginia: August 5 – 8, 2022 (clothing, school supplies, sports equipment, and computers)
If your state does not offer a tax-free weekend and a nearby state does, take a road trip.
#7 Purchase Discounted Gift Cards for Shopping
Have you taken advantage of discounted gift card sites yet? If not, now is a perfect time! Discount gift card sites, such as CardBear, allow you to purchase a gift card for a specific retailer at a lower price.
For example, if you want to purchase a $25 Target gift card, CardBear will take you to a site that is offering the $25 gift card for $20.
#8 Use Drugstore Rewards for School Supplies
People tend to forget that drug stores sell school supplies.
Since drug stores, such as CVS and Walgreens, offer tons of rewards, it is wise to shop for school supplies there. You can use the rewards points you’ve been saving for name-brand school supplies.
#9 Scan While You Shop
Download the Amazon app for easy price comparison shopping.
With the Amazon app, you can scan barcodes while you are back to school shopping at other retailers and quickly see if the product is cheaper to buy online.
If it is cheaper, simply add it to your online shopping cart – even while you are shopping at Walmart.
#10 Sign Up for Price Drop Alerts
For specific, pricey purchases, such as a school-required Chromebook, sign up for price drop alerts.
CamelCamelCamel is an easy-to-use price drop website that will send you an email once the item you are looking for hits the price range you want.
#11 Buy in Bulk with Friends
Again, you are not the only parent who wants to save money on back to school shopping.
Put out some feelers and see if any of your friends (or parents of your kid’s classmates) would be interested in buying supplies in bulk from a wholesaler like Sam’s Club or Amazon.
You can easily split the costs using Venmo.
#12 Go to Stores Kid-Free
If you want to save money on back to school shopping, you must leave the kids at home. Your kids will ask for more than they need. Plus, they are prone to picking the most expensive items, such as character-themed bookbags.
Take the list and leave them at home.
#13 Sell Your Kids’ Stuff
Kids outgrow clothing and toys at a crazy speed. Their interests change. Now that they are entering a new grade, take the things they have outgrown and sell it on Facebook Marketplace or other online selling pages.
Last year’s Minecraft obsession is new for someone else’s kid this year. Use the money you make to pay for this year’s school supplies.
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