Some kids are already back to school. It hit me that summer was over while driving to work today and seeing all the kiddos get on those big yellow buses. So for some readers your back-to-school shopping may already be done, but for others they might not have even started yet. I wanted to give you a few tips, tricks, and pointers to help you save money while buying that back-to-school stuff:
- Take an inventory of what you have already – Kids don’t always use everything that we give them. Your child could still have a few notebooks from last year that he/she never even opened. Go through all of their bags, desk drawers, room, etc. and see what can still be used this year instead of just buying everything new and wasting some supplies. That goes for clothes too!
- Now that you took inventory, only buy what you truly need – Each year the teachers usually hand out a School Supply list as a recommended guide for what the kids will need that school year. You can cross things off your list that you already have, and then only purchase things on the list. Extra supplies will probably never get used and just leave your pockets empty.
- Look for the “End of Summer” sales – This is where online comparison shopping can come in handy. That blue gel pen at Best Buy might be two times cheaper at Wal-Mart or Kmart. Take a look online before heading out to the actual stores, and you’ll know that you just got that trapper-keeper for the best possible price! (Do kids still use trapper-keepers or am I showing my age?)
- Ask for price-matching at that store – Staples claims that the retail giant is offering the lowest prices anywhere on back-to-school supplies. If there’s any uncertainty, they will back it up with a 110% price-match guarantee. If you can find an item priced for less anywhere else then Staples will give you the difference, plus 10% off. Use policies like this to your advantage!
- Shop at places that honor future markdown prices – Check on the store’s price adjustment policy, you may be able to save on items that are marked down after you buy them. The savings can be most significant when purchasing clothes. Make sure that you check with each store to find out what their return policy and price adjustment policy are before you buy.
- Take back supplies if they are NOT being used in a month or two – If you went over budget on school supplies this year, frequently check to see if there are any items that your child has not used yet or even refuses to use now. Kids’ tastes change and grow as much as they do. If you notice that some clothes are going unworn, or some supplies are not opened, try taking them back to the stores to get some money back.
- Buy the pricey items after school has already begun – It’s a good idea to grab some school supplies for the first week, but try to wait on going clothes shopping until later. If your kid needs to have a new outfit for the first day or first week of school, shop the great summer sales. It will still be warm enough for them to wear summer clothes. After that, towards the end of September, start shopping for those new fall and winter outfits. They will probably be marked down, and you’ll save more money.