How To Save Money On Back-To-School Shopping And All Year Long.

Let’s just say back-to-school shopping is expensive. Not only do you have a lot to buy, but there’s also that whole inflation thing. If you expected things to get more expensive, you’re not alone. This year, 84% of people were expecting to see higher prices when back-to-school shopping. Listen, that list of yours may be massive, but these back-to-school shopping tips can help you prioritize your spending so you can save money  now and all through the school year (and we all want to save money).

Create and prioritize your list of back-to-school shopping needs.

Before you start shopping willy-nilly, create a list of needs and put them in order from most pressing to least. So, a few new shirts and a pair of shoes might be at the top of the list and that new iPad for homework might be at the bottom (the old one is still kicking). You may not be able to cover everything right away—but creating this list will help you see what you need to tackle first.

Make a back-to-school budget.

Now that you have your list, it’s time create a budget. When you make a budget and stick to it, you’re telling those hard-earned dollars where to go (and where not to go).  As you set up your budget, make a new budget category for school-related expenses that happen every single month (like after-school care or club fees).  Other back-to-school expenses will be a one-time thing—like all those three-ring binders. All those one-time school supply items can go in a separate budget line item.

Save on clothing by seeing what you already have.

Kids grow. And growing means outgrowing clothing. First, shop your kids’ closets and drawers. What still fits? What doesn’t? Are there any hand-me-downs from your older kids? All this sorting will definitely take some time, but in this case, time spent is money saved.

Spread out the shopping.

Don’t feel like you have to buy a whole new wardrobe at the beginning—because you don’t (no matter how much your kids want you to). Spread out the spending over several months to make it easier on your budget.  You’ll feel the draw of those back-to-school sales. But there will be other sales. Buy a little this month, buy a little next. Don’t blow the budget in August. Not only is that a risky money decision, but your kid is also likely to shoot up another inch by October. Then, it’s back to the racks again.

See what supplies you already have.

At the end of last year, your child brought home a mixed bag of stuff: part trash, part memories, and part still-usable supplies. If you kept any of that good stuff, can you use it this year?  Look around the rest of your house too. You might already have the right calculator, plenty of pencils, or those neon highlighters.

Know the difference between cheap and value.

What do tacos, sandcastles, bookbags and school supplies have in common? No one wants them to fall apart. Inexpensive things sometimes do just that with daily use. As you hunt for deals, think more about the word value than the word cheap. An item can be cheap in more ways than one: cost and quality. If something is low cost, it can be a good value. But if something is low quality, it isn’t worth your money. Especially if you have to replace it in a few months all over again. This is important when you buy clothing and supplies that’ll take a lot of wear and tear—like shoes, coats, backpacks and jeans (including the ones you hope to hand down from one kid to the next). Make sure you keep quality in mind.

Use the dollar store for some back-to-school shopping.

Using that same cheap vs. value thinking, check out your local dollar stores. Yes, you’ll see plenty of junk, but you might be surprised at the quality finds awaiting you. For one, they often get random shipments of name-brand items.  Also, certain items like clipboards, poster board, planners and pens are just as good here as anywhere else.

Don’t rule out the prepared back-to-school supply box.

If your child’s school offers a prepared supply box, check into it! We can put a lot of stress on ourselves doing all that extra shopping and end up saving very little or nothing. Do some online price checks to see which is the better deal. What you find may surprise you.

Buy used.

Don’t force your preteen to sport a used Dora the Explorer backpack because it was the only one at the thrift store. But also, don’t feel like everything has to be brand-new every year. Consignment shops, garage sales, thrift stores and Facebook Marketplace are all great options.  Get. Those. Deals.

Download apps to your favorite stores.

Target and Walmart have apps with some serious savings perks when you’re back-to-school shopping (or doing any shopping). You can get special offers, see store pickup options, and check out clearance items.

Use coupons while back-to-school shopping.

Hey, coupons aren't just for grandmas and extreme couponers. You can save so much money by finding coupons online or by checking those paper sales ads. It seems like a lot of work clipping or clicking and then keeping up with it all—but $0.50 here and $1 there really adds up. Literally.

Find stores that price match.

Some stores will offer to match prices if you find a better deal elsewhere. Office Depot, Michael’s, Kohl’s and Target are a few stores who offer this shopping benefit. They all have some kind of fine print (like they need to see the competitor’s sales ad or they offer just one price match per day), but check into these details and you can get great deals and cut down on trips to a million different stores.

Shop the sales.

To help fight rising prices, 42% of back-to-school shoppers are planning to shop sales this year.  Challenge yourself to only shop the sales for your back-to-school buys. If you’re the techy kind, set up alerts on your favorite sites to make sure you don’t miss out on any sales.  Even a few dollars off can add up fast!

It’s All About That Back-to-School Budget!

Getting ready to go back to school can be stressful, but it’s about 98% better when you follow these tips—especially the budgeting part. For some, the thought of budgeting is even more stressful. But it’s about 100% better when you find a way to make budgeting easy. And we know just the thing—EveryDollarBudget.com. Just set up your budget and keep track of your spending on the go. The best part? It’s free!

Following these tips at the beginning and all through the school year can really save you money.

(Partially reprinted from ramseysolutions.com)

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