Friday, August 07, 2015

13 Great Back to School Shopping Tips

It’s summertime. Time for vacations, barbeques, swimming pools, beaches and longer days. Time to relax and have fun. Children get to stay up late at night watching television or playing games. Many families take vacations and enjoy the weather during the summertime. The one thing that puts a damper on summertime is going back to school and going school shopping. Parents hate it and kids hate it too. It is a final reminder that summer is almost over!

Buying school supplies and clothes and for your children can be extremely stressful and costly.  Children want the latest electronics, gadgets and fads their friends have. Don't let your children pressure you into buying the latest fads or things they don't really need or buy things you know you can’t afford. Only buy things that your children absolutely need for school. This will save you money because we could all use a little extra money these days.   

Talk with your children before going clothes and school shopping and set expectations. Let them know about your finances and what you are going to buy and what you are not going to buy.   Explain to them the difference between needs and wants, and that designer clothes and name brands are not needs.

Ask your children to create a list of mandatory supplies they need for school. Verify with the school to ensure you have all required items. Determine what clothes your children can still fit comfortably and make a list of things they need. Prioritize the list in four categories:  Need Now, Need in 2-4 months, Need in 5-7 months, Need When School Ends. This will also help you budget your money if you don't have the cash to get everything you need when school begins.  Here are 13 tips to save money when shopping for back to school supplies and clothes.

  1. Plan Ahead. Don’t wait until the last minute to buy school supplies. The best store sales start early so plan ahead to take advantage of them. Plan ahead for a few months when shopping during tax free sales.
  2. Barter.  If you know a parent who provides services that you need for your children such as tutoring or carpooling and you have clothes or toys your kids are not using consider bartering. Use barter networks such as
  3. Swap. Swap children’s clothes with a friend or relative to save money.
  4. Sales. Go to yard sales and dollar stores to find great bargains.
  5. Clothes. Buy clothes from a thrift store, consignment shop or discount store. Kids grow quickly and their clothes generally don't last or fit them throughout the entire school year. Buy clothes and shoes if possible at least one size too big so your kids can get more wear out of them.
  6. Network. Mention to family, friends, co-workers and neighbors that you are going school shopping. They may be able to provide money savings tips or may have extra supplies they can give to you for free.
  7. Comparison Shop. Search the internet for reputable websites that sell school supplies at a discount price and purchase items before school starts to get the best deals.  Every few minutes of comparison shopping can save you $1 - $9. Also shop at stores that honor competitor prices and coupons.
  8. Home. Look around the house to see if you have any leftover supplies from the previous school year.
  9. Internet. Search the internet for reputable websites that sell school supplies at a discount price such as Amazon, eBay, Overstock or auction websites.
  10. Tax Free. Take advantage of tax free days in your state to buy school supplies and school clothes for your children.  
  11. Know the Prices. Know the prices before you go shopping. Some stores mark up prices to offset the cost of consumers not paying taxes.  If you don’t you may end up paying more than the original cost of the item.
  12. Use Coupons. Use coupons to save even more money.
  13. Use rewards. Use cash back rewards shopping portals such as or to save more money.

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