Back to School Shopping Savings Tips

Brent Pittman —  07/31/2012
Shelves of Glue

Is your wallet ready for back to school shopping?

Summer is almost over and its time to think about returning to school for millions of students.

Those jeans little Johnny wore last year have shrunk up to his knees and the duct tape has worn off his backpack.

That means its time to start your back to school shopping. No doubt you’ve already been bombarded by back to school advertisements from the media.

Back to school shopping is a big money maker, second only to Christmas. Back to school shopping can make a big dent in the budget if you’re not careful, in fact the average family with kids K-12 will spend $688.62 according to a NRF survey.

I’ll share a few ideas to save money during this back to school shopping season, so you’ll have extra cash for their college accounts.

Back to School Shopping Savings

Shop Tax Free Days– Most states have back to school shopping dates where you don’t pay taxes. How great is that? See if your state has a sales tax holiday.

Shopping Lists– Schools will have lists of items you’ll need to buy from the individual teachers or a general school list. Some schools might even have them online. Use the lists to buy what you need

If you need a sample list check these sample back to school shopping list:

K-5 Class Supply List from El Oro Way Elementary

6-8 Suggest Class Supply List from Sequoia Middle School

K-12 from Real Simple. For high school it depends on the classes they take, so check with their specific teacher.

Wants vs. Needs- Teach your child to separate needs from wants when shopping for school supplies. They want a new calculator, but their one from last year will do just fine if your family is on a tight budget.

Make a Budget– Have each child help make the budget along with their school supplies list. What a great chance to teach financial literary!

This will alleviate many arguments and disagreements in the store since they helped make the budget themselves. When the money runs out, it runs out unless they want to add money for other items.

Bulk Buying– When I was a teacher I gave bonus points for boxes of tissue. If you have multiple children, you can save a lot of money by buying some items in bulk. Just check the cost per item to ensure you’re getting a good deal.

Thrift Stores and Yard Sales– You can find many items at yard sales and thrift stores, including clothes. Your tweens or teens might find that shopping for vintage clothing at thrift stores is actually more fun than buying off the rack clothes, not to mention easier on the budgets they helped to create.

Vintage and 80’s are in style if you’re not up with the latest trends. See more back to school fashion trends for 2012-13 school year.

Free School Supplies– Many different types of groups assist with the high cost of back to school supplies. Try these different sources for free back to school supplies for low income or families in need.

  • Local Companies- Check with local businesses for free back to school supplies.
  • Local Churches- Many churches in urban cities offer assistance.
  • Government agencies may offer back to school fairs or assistance. Local fire and police departements often have school supply drives for low income families.
  • Local Nonprofits: United Way, YMCA , The Salvation Army and many others offer supplies.

Back to School Immunizations– Make sure your child’s shot records are up to date per state requirements. Some communities offer free health fairs for back to to school immunizations or consult your pediatrician about other low cost options if your insurance doesn’t cover these shots.

Back to school shopping doesn’t have to break the bank if you plan properly. Just remember a good education will help them win scholarships and ensure they won’t come back to live with you later in life!

How do you prepare for back to school shopping? Do you have any tips for back to school shopping savings?

Photo Credit Chelsea Oakes (Creative Commons).

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Brent Pittman

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Brent is a financial coach and writer looking for the perfect donut. He believes personal finance should be both fun and accessible to anyone willing to learn.
  • maria@moneyprinciple

    This sounds sensible; this year we need a uniform for High School though; and in the UK there are dedicated shops for different schools. The best I can hope for is to find a place that gives a proportion of the price to charity. Oh, we…

    • Glad I never had to deal with uniforms though I can see their positive aspects. Charity that is a good reason to patronize a shop–happy hunting!

  • Even after all these years, I still cringe when I see back to school signs up at Target in July. Uggghh! We usually exercise the make a list and buy in bulk tips for our kids. It also helps to buy more now because if you need something throughout the year you’re going to pay more for it!

    • These kids cost a lot eh? Why do we have them…oh yeah they’re so darn cute!

  • I don’t have kids yet but these tips will definitely play in handy later. I am amazed at what you can find at dollar stores now. What a resource!

    • Dollar stores have actually expanded during this recession…hey frugal is hip!

  • krantcents

    Thankfully, my children are grown! I look forward to going back to school as a teacher. Crazy, I know, but I like my career and look forward to go to work after summer vacation.

    • If you’re doing something you enjoy, the work is worth it! Enjoy your last few days of vacation.