Back-to-school shopping can put a serious dent in your bank account. In fact, parents plan to spend close to $700 on supplies this year according to a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation.
Before you run to the store to start shopping, read these eight savings tricks to help you keep more of your hard-earned money.
1. Do a little back-to-school shopping at a time
When you decide it’s time to purchase school supplies, don’t run to the store and grab everything all at once. Many retailers rotate deals throughout the week, which means you’ll likely score better back-to-school shopping deals if you take multiple trips.
2. Don’t forget about the rebates
No doubt about it, rebates are great. It’s incredibly comforting to know even more savings are coming your way as you leave the store. That is if the rebate paperwork actually gets submitted once you get home.
To ensure you take full advantage of any back-to-school shopping rebates, complete the paperwork and send it in immediately. Avoid placing it on your kitchen counter telling yourself you’ll take care of it tomorrow. All too often, those rebates get shuffled around and wind up lost. Do your pocketbook a favor and promptly handle your rebate business.
3. Utilize price matching
Many retail stores, like Staples, Target, and Office Depot/OfficeMax, offer price matching. That means they’ll honor lower prices found at competing stores. If you’re a mom or dad that lives in fear of missing out on a smaller price tag, price matching can help ease those concerns. Plus, it can save you time by not having to visit every store that sells back-to-school supplies in your area. Simply do some quick online research ahead of your shopping trips so you know if there’s a better deal elsewhere.
If you’re already at the store, however, mobile coupon apps can help you find the best deal. You can also check Amazon for real-time price comparisons.
4. Put your clothing purchases on hold
Many finance experts say the best deals on clothing, like denim, boots and light jackets, occur in the fall. That’s after school starts. So, it may be in your best interest to wait to buy clothes.
And while it may be hard to hold off on outfitting your child with new digs, you’ll likely thank yourself later when you take home new shirts for half the price.
5. Stick to the golden list
Many schools send out back-to-school shopping lists of specific items they want you to purchase for your child. That list is gold.
Instead of running to the store and grabbing a bunch of fancy items, stick to what’s on the list so you don’t over-purchase. Depending on your budget, it may be okay to splurge a little. But following the list will help you avoid breaking the bank and buying unnecessary supplies.
6. Look for coupons
This may be a no-brainer, but it’s still worth mentioning. As with all items, a key money saver is coupons. Watch your mailboxes for manufacturer and store coupons from office supply brands during the month of August. Redeem the manufacturer coupons on sale items to maximize your back-to-school savings. You can also search online for electronic coupons.
7. Shop on Sunday and Monday
Many retail stores’ weekly back-to-school sales start on Sunday mornings. If your schedule allows, it’s best to do your shopping that day or the Monday following to ensure you don’t miss out.
Even “loss leader” items – extremely discounted items with a quantity limit – tend to get snatched from the shelves quickly.
8. Buy more supplies for tax savings
If your budget allows, consider purchasing more items and donating them to charitable organizations that divvy up supplies to kids in need. Doing so can potentially create some tax savings for you because you can claim that donation as a charitable deduction on your tax return.
Many churches or not-for-profit school district programs are always searching for additional supplies to help kids in your local area.