Back to school shopping lists these days contain a lot more than just boxes of pencils and crayons. There are folders, ear buds, school backpacks and sometimes even laptops that make up the growing list. If you have to shop for more than one child, it can feel like Christmas in August. Back to school shopping is big business and is expected to grow 4% in 2017 compared to 2016 sales. That’s saying a lot because back to school sales set a record last year. Although it is obvious people are spending money, you don’t have to break the bank to get your kids off to school. Knowing some saving tips as well as the best times to buy certain products can make all the difference if you’re hoping to get to the head of the class as a savvy shopper.
Back to School Clothes
Meet my New Bestie, “Clearance”
End of summer sales can be your BFF.
Since many kids go back to school at the end of August when the mercury is still rising, they’re still going to need summer clothes. You can get great deals on clearance racks with end of the season sales. Many of this merchandise starts getting marked down after Fourth of July. This is a great time to stock up for that first month or two of school.
Sales Tax-free Week
Many states have a sales tax-free week during the summer. This is when parents across the country flock to stores to take advantage of buying items like new school shoes, jeans, jackets and any other items. Since each state has different rules, it’s best to check out where your specific state stands so you can get the best deals and stretch your dollar. Many of these tax-free holidays land in late June and August.
Back to School Supplies
These days many teachers will send home a school supplies list the last day of school so students have all summer to get ready.
When you get the list first take stock of what you have at home and what is salvageable from the previous year. You may be surprised to discover how many things you don’t have to buy brand new.
Once you know what you do need to buy, take a trip to your favorite dollar store and get dollar dazed by all of the school supplies. You can grab a good sized multi-pack of pencils, pens, erasers, and even crayons for just a buck each. Kids don’t need designer school supplies. As long as they write, get the job done, and don’t cost you a fortune, everyone’s happy. If you still want to hit the big-box stores, experts advise to go in July. There may be deals to be had there because retailers know everyone typically rushes to the store in August and many are not thinking back-to-school shopping while they’re still going to the beach in July.
Backpacks Don’t Need Characters.
Getting a new backpack for the start of the school year is a rite of passage. But, try not to get stuck in the character trap with your kids. According to Money magazine, backpacks, lunch bags and any other school supply with a character’s face are typically 20 to 30 percent more than plain items. If a themed backpack is a must have, experts advise telling your child he or she can decorate the bag with stickers or something else with a character face.
Don’t be embarrassed to price match. There’s nothing shameful about saving money, is there? Quite the contrary; saving money can give you a rush! If a store like Wal-Mart offers a price match policy, take them up on it, even for school supplies.
Timing is Everything
For big ticket items like laptops and notebooks, one of the best times to buy is between the last week of July and the first three weeks of August. Retailers know college-bound students and students even younger will be looking as they do their back to school shopping.
Since back-to-school shopping is often referred to as one of the biggest shopping seasons of the year, set a budget as you would during the holidays. Besides helping you save money, it will also teach your kids the value of a dollar and how to stretch it. Happy shopping and saving! Want to save more while shopping back to school? Download the Shopkick App to earn free gift cards while shopping.