Have you looked at the back to school supply list yet? Seems like the list of supplies needed keeps getting longer and longer each year.
You probably started to notice back to school displays and aisles in the front of stores in June (right as you kids just finished school). Did you know that back to school shopping is the second biggest shopping season (Christmas being the biggest)?
With retailers working extra hard to get you to spend your dollars, let’s discuss easy tips to save money on back to school shopping.
Note: For your convenience, this post includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure policy here.
5 Tips to Save Money This Back to School Season
Check your current inventory
Last year, you probably purchased extra notebooks, pencils, crayons and more so you would have extra supplies during the school year.
Now is the time to check your inventory. You can save money this year by using items you already have stocked up on.
Depending on how many extra supplies you purchased, you might have more extra items than you expected.
Reuse Items from Last Year
At the end of school, your kids probably brought home a bag full of supplies they did not use from last year. I’ve had several times when supplies were returned at the end of the year and never used. I always save these items for next year.
You can also reuse items that are still in good condition. I have reused quality notebooks, 3-ring binders, plastic folders, scissors, and rulers.
I understand it’s nice to have a “new” one each year, but if the one from last year was barely used it doesn’t make sense to buy a new one. If you keep buying new, you will end up with clutter or throwing out the old ones.
Recommended for you: The Ultimate Back to School Resources
Create a List and Shop the List
Before you shop, read over the school supply list (don’t pick up one of those handy ones in the store).
Check off all the items on the list you already have because you have them saved in your inventory or you have extra items you can reuse. Hopefully, you have reduced the list significantly before you even start to shop.
Review the rest of the list carefully. Stay focused on just the items you need and not all the add-on’s and extras (it’s easy to get carried away with cute pencil holders, backpack accessories, locker organizers and more). Use your shopping list and only purchase what you need.
Shop Quality When Needed
While I generally prefer the least expensive items that will meet the student’s needs. For some items, it’s better to purchase quality.
Remember, even when you purchase quality items that cost more, you can still shop for deals and sales to save.
If you purchase quality backpacks they will usually last for 2 or 3 years before needing to be replaced. My son was brutal on backpacks. So, I purchased a higher quality backpack for $30 and it has lasted almost 3 years (and it could be used again).
Like backpacks, lunch boxes are used every day and they wear out fast. To avoid having to purchase several lunch boxes throughout the year, I try to purchase at least 2 quality lunch boxes for each child at the beginning of school. If they are in good condition, they can be reused the next year.
If your child is to an age where they need a calculator, I don’t recommend a cheap one (i.e. one that costs a few bucks). I tried this last year and ended up having the buy replacements for all the cheap calculators because they broke within a few weeks.
Clothes and shoes
Most likely you will need to purchase some clothes and shoes for your kids to start school. With clothes and shoes, it’s probably better to pay a little more for quality that will last all year.
One exception might be if your child is in a growth spurt and you think they might outgrow the clothes quickly.
With quality clothes, you can also hand them down from older to younger children too.
Don’t forget to take advantage of tax-free days
If your state offers tax-free shopping days, plan your back to school shopping around these dates especially if you need to purchase larger and more expensive items like computers and even clothes and shoes.
Tax-free days offer instant savings. You automatically save 5%-10% depending on the sales tax in your state and county. For me, I can save 7% by using these special days for back to school shopping.
You can also save time and avoid the crowds by doing your back to school shopping on Amazon.
Back to school shopping doesn’t have to break the bank. Use these easy tips to save on back to school shopping:
- Start by checking for school supplies you already have and can reuse.
- Shop from a checklist or shopping guide and only purchase what you need (skip the “nice to haves”)
- Purchase quality for items that wear out quickly like backpacks and clothes.
- Take advantage of tax-free days.
Don’t wait until the last minute to do your back to school shopping either.
With these tips and a shopping plan, you can save on back to school shopping.