The beginning of a new school year is an exciting time, but it's also an expensive time. Buying all the lunch gear, clothing, school supplies and backpacks your kids need for the new school year can really add up quickly. On average, families spend around $510 per child on school shopping. That's a lot, especially if you have multiple children to buy for.
Saving money on your school shopping is possible, but it requires a little research and work. Here, we've compiled a list of some of the best insider hacks and tricks you can use to shop smart for back to school.
1. Price Match. Price matching is an easy way to shop with an advantage. Find out what retailers do price matching (Staples, Kohl's and OfficeMax are a few examples) and buy your supplies there. There are some amazing apps that will even do the price matching research for you, like Receipt Hog and The Flipp App.
2. Check for Groupon coupons and deals. Check these sites regularly throughout the summer, as sales change often.
3. Buy using rewards points or cash back options like Ebates. By shopping at places that have a loyalty program, you'll always be earning cashback for future purchases.
4. Follow your favourite retailers on social media. They’ll often have deals for their followers and they'll update you when certain items are on sale! Looking for some great ones to follow? Try Staples, BestBuy, or Target).
5. Shop on Tax-Free Weekends. If you're in the US, many states have tax-free weekends in the summer. Not sure when yours is? Click here for a list of State-by-State dates for Tax-Free Weekends in 2019.
6. Buy a Subscription to a Printer Ink Company, such as the HP Instant Ink Program. By subscribing, you'll get better deals on ink for your middle school and high school students.
7. Use Amazon. Buy during Prime Day to get a head start on deals or use CamelCamelCamel, an Amazon price tracker, so you can buy when you're getting the best deal.
8. Don’t bring the kids, they’ll nag for the most expensive stuff and you might get roped into spending more than you'd budgeted for. Go alone when you can take the time to peruse the aisles and do price comparisons.
9. Buy in bulk and split with a friends. Do your shopping at your local bulk retailer (ie. Costco or Sam's Club) and stock up no bulk purchases that you can split! The price per item is way lower that way (2 water bottles, 2 staplers, etc).
10. Go through everything from the previous year and reuse whatever you can. There's no reason to buy all-new everything each school year. Go through last year's supplies and salvage whatever is still in good condition and can be used again.
11. Wait for the teacher's list so you don’t over buy. It can be hard to know exactly what your kids are going to need, and it sometimes means you end up over-buying just in case. If you're okay with shopping last minute, it can be a real money-saver to wait for the teacher's list and buy just those items.
12. Budget ahead of time so you don’t get carried away. It can be hard to find the time to sit and create a budget for your school shopping ahead of time, but it's worth it. Make a list of the items needed for each child and set a budget so that you don't end up overspending.
13. Buy in the off-season or wait to buy. By mid-September, most stores are desperate to get rid of the excess school supplies which means they put everything on clearance. If you're willing to wait and shop a little later, you can get some crazy deals!
14. Label everything. It's easy for kids to lose track of their items in the classroom and on the playground. Label all the items that you send to school to ensure they always find their way back home. Buying a pack of durable, waterproof labels at the beginning of the school year is an added cost, but it will save you a lot of money long term. If your kid has ever lost a pricey lunch box or new pair of shoes, you know how important this is. Mabel's Labels personalized School Label Packs are laundry safe, dishwasher safe, and backed by a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.