Back to School – 5 Shopping Tips

Posted by Steph Perine on Jul 17, 2018

Back to School - 5 shopping tips

You may feel like school just got out, but the reality is that September’s just around the corner. As if that’s not bad enough, retailers will soon start heralding the arrival of“back to school” season. Which means one thing for many parents: spending money. In fact, according to the most recent Huntington Bank Backpack Index, parents of elementary school children can expect to pay in the neighborhood of $662 per child on back to school supplies. This number spikes even higher for middle school and high school students — to $1,001 and $1,489, respectively. Even worse? These figures don’t even include clothing costs!

The good news? If you’re hoping to stock up on school supplies without draining your bank account, there are some things you can do to keep spending in check. Read on for a roundup of five money-saving back to school shopping tips

1.  Be Patient

While stores may begin advertising back to school sales in mid-July, this is also when prices are high. The real discounts can be found after school starts when retailers slash prices to make room for next season’s inventory. The takeaway? If you’re looking for the best prices, don’t rush to the store. Instead, buy just the bare minimum or make due with last year’s leftovers. Then, wait it out until a few weeks into the school year. Not only will you find lower prices, but you’ll also enjoy a more peaceful, less crowded shopping experience.

Delaying your back to school shopping has the added benefit of helping you get a better understanding of your child’s true needs versus mere wants

2.  Take Inventory

Speaking of supply needs, shopping without a list is asking to overspend. Before so much as stepping foot in a store, spend a few minutes inventorying what you already have. You may be surprised to find that last year’s backpacks are packed with plenty of usable materials. If you’re shopping for clothes, determine what still fits before handing over your credit card. For example, while pants that fit last fall may now be highwaters, shirts and jackets may make it through multiple seasons. By taking inventory before making your shopping list, you can head off unnecessary or wasteful purchases.

3.  Set a Budget

If you’re like most people, you probably have a limit in terms of what you can afford to spend. So why would you start back to school shopping without establishing a target amount? After taking inventory and making a list, you will have a clear picture of your shopping needs. Now, you just need to set a budget — and commit to sticking to it.

4.  Price Shop

From big box stores like Walmart and Target to office supply stores like Staples and Office Depot, there are many possible destinations when it comes to back to school shopping. Factor in dollar stores, thrift shops, and online retailers, and your options are near-endless. However, if you want the steepest discounts, it’s important to do your research before setting out.

Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to find the best deals. Be sure to check weekly ads and circulars for prices and coupons. And don’t forget that many websites and apps do the comparison shopping for you, including ShopSavvyBuyViaScanLife Barcode & QR Reader, PriceGrabberNexTagShopzillaSlickdeals, and Invisible Hand. Not only can these sites and apps help you shop and save on millions of products, but many also offer additional features and functionality, such as historical highs and lows and price tracking — all aimed at helping you make the most informed buying decisions.

Also, don’t underestimate in-house store brand items. In many cases, the quality is just as good as name brands like Elmer’s and Crayola for a much lower price.

5.  Don’t Deviate.

You’ve devoted a significant amount of time and energy to taking inventory, setting a budget, comparison shopping, and making lists. Don’t let it all go to waste once you’reon your actual shopping mission. Many retailers lure in customers with amazing deals on a handful of products in the hopes that you’ll buy more expensive items while you’re there. Don’t fall for it! To stay within your budget, stick to the plan and only buy what’s on your list for each store.

Let’s face it: Raising kids is expensive. However, back to school shopping doesn’t have to be a bank account buster. By following these five tips, you can shop smarter and save big this school year.