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How to Save Money on Back-to-School Shopping

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Every year parents and students get ready for one of the biggest expenditures of the year, that is back-to-school shopping. And as in previous years, parents everywhere will be looking for ways to save money on their current or upcoming back-to-school shopping trip.

This article will discuss how to save money on back-to-school shopping.

Table of Contents

18 Tips to Save Money on Back-to-School Shopping

1. Buy used clothes from thrift stores

Buying a brand-new school wardrobe can be quite expensive. But if you are willing to look around at your local thrift store, you may find some great deals! You could even buy an entire outfit for less than $20.00.

2. Shop online

If you don’t want to go into a brick and mortar store, there are plenty of websites where you can shop for school items for your child without leaving home. Some popular online shopping sites include Amazon, Walmart, Target, Kohl’s, Best Buy, Office Depot, etc.

An online retailer, like Amazon, will often offer many items at discounted prices compared to brick & mortar retailers. So instead of going out and spending hundreds of dollars, you can just sit comfortably at home and browse through all the options available.

Gas money (and time) saved…booyah!

3. Use coupons

Coupons are another easy way to save money while back-to-schooling. There are tons of coupon apps like Ibotta, which allow users to earn cashback by taking photos of products they see advertised in magazines or commercials and then snapping pictures of those same products with their smartphone camera.

The app sends you offers via text message to download onto your phone. Cashiers simply type in the coupon codes or scan the provided barcodes using the app, and you receive points that add up and can be redeemed for gift cards. Users also have the option of redeeming their points towards paying bills or making other purchases.

Don’t forget to utilize any store rewards program you may have signed up for.

4. Don’t buy everything all at once

It might seem tempting to purchase every single item on your list right away, but this isn’t always the best idea. Instead, try purchasing only what you need now and saving the rest until later.

For example, if you know you’ll need a backpack, wait until after the Labor Day holiday weekend before heading to the store to pick one up. By waiting, you’ll avoid having to pay full price for something instead if paying the lowest prices.

5. Use my Cash Back Stacking system

If you use my system, I guaranty that you will recover the cost of the book.

6. Make lists

Before you head off to the mall, make yourself a checklist of things you absolutely must have during the first few weeks of school. If you do this ahead of time, you’ll eliminate unnecessary trips to the store and help keep costs down.

7. Bring reusable bags

Instead of bringing plastic grocery sacks to carry groceries home, consider packing cloth ones. Not only is this eco-friendly, but it saves you money as well. It’s only a few cents, but money is money.

8. Get free stuff

There are lots of places that provide freebies for students. Many schools hand out pencils, pens, notebooks, folders, binders, lunch boxes, water bottles, and more. Check bulletin boards around campus to see if anyone has extra supplies lying about.

If you are really struggling to pay for things, check to see if the school or local charity has a program in place for families on a low income budget.

9. Check out Groupon Coupons

Groupon has an entire section dedicated to student savings deals. You can find great discounts on activities such as field trip packages, classes, tutoring services, camps, and even sports teams! Just search “student savings” under the Groupon tab on the website.

10. Save money by using cashback sites like TopCashback & Rakuten

Cash Back Stacking book

These websites let you shop online and earn cash rewards for doing so. It’s similar to how credit card companies work — when you use your debit/credit card to complete a transaction, you will get reimbursed for part of the amount spent.

Cashback sites operate similarly: When you shop online, you typically click a link from the site to go to the merchant page where you actually spend money. Then, your purchase will automatically be tracked by the cashback site.

Once confirmed by the merchant, you are given cash back credit in your account. From there, you can choose how you want to be paid. Common options are a gift card, checks, or bank deposits. You can even donate your cashback in some cases.

Some merchants give cash back regardless of whether you meet certain requirements, while others require you to reach a minimum threshold of spending within a specified period of time.

This tip is a key component (but not the only one) of my Cash Back Stacking system.

11. Check the dollar store

Dollar Tree, for example, offers some amazing deals on school supplies. They often offer bulk packs of paper products in large quantities for very low prices. This means you won’t be shelling out $20+ per pack just because you want to stock up on writing utensils.

Dollar Tree also sells many other items that other retailers stock, including crayons, markers, stickers, glue sticks, etc.

12. Do not pay full price for anything

If you don’t already own something, wait until after school starts before buying it at full retail price. Buying new clothes or shoes right away could mean paying hundreds of dollars later. Instead, look through clearance racks at department stores and consignment shops. These locations sell brand name clothing at discounted rates.

The same goes for electronics; try looking for refurbished models instead of purchasing new ones. What’s great is that even refurbished models will often come with a warranty.

13. Ask friends if they are interested in doing group buys on basic supplies

You may be able to save a bunch of money by splitting the cost of bulk school supplies with other families at places like Costco or Sam’s Club. If there is no interest among your friend circle, consider contacting parents who have a child going to the same school as yours.

14. Join Facebook groups where people share their favorite ways to save money

There are tons of these types of groups available on social media platforms. Look for schools near you and join the relevant groups. There might be one specifically geared towards saving money, but chances are good that there are plenty of general education groups too.

15. Don’t forget about office supply stores

Office Depot, Staples, and Office Max all carry lots of great deals on pens, pencils, notebooks, binders, folders, staplers, highlighters, rulers, erasers, sticky notes, dry-erase boards, calculators, and more! Many times, I’ve found myself picking up things I didn’t need simply because they were cheap.

16. Sign up for text alerts, so you will know when there are good deals available

Text alert services such as Groupon Alerts allow you to sign up for notifications whenever there is an item being offered nearby that you’re likely to buy. You’ll receive texts with details about the deal, along with links to purchase the item directly from the company offering the discount.

17. Be patient!

It takes time to find great deals. It took me years to get my savings habit under control (somewhat). I used to think that I had to do all this work immediately — that I needed to start shopping around for discounts now and grab what I could find. But over time, I learned that patience pays off.

These days I’m more focused on finding deals than I am on getting things done quickly. That way, I end up having less stress and more free time.

18. Have fun!

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