10 Ways to Save on Back-To-School Shopping

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It’s that time of year again, when summer is simmering down and back-to-school shopping begins. Regardless of how many kids you have to shop for, the process can be overwhelming – and expensive! Here are some ways you can get more bang for your buck while back-to-school shopping: (courtesy Cameron Huddleston, Kiplinger)

1. Shop Your Home First – Take inventory of your drawers, cabinets, and closets so you know what you already have before shopping. You’ll likely find that you already have several items such as notebooks and pencils that you purchased but your kids never used or are still in good condition. Also, have your kids try on the clothing they already have to see what fits. You might find that they haven’t grown enough to justify the purchase of new apparel or shoes.

2. Email a Teacher – If your child’s school doesn’t provide a shopping list, ask your child’s teacher what supplies are absolutely needed when classes start. This will help you avoid wasting money on school supplies your child doesn’t need. Even if your child’s school provides a standard supply list, many teachers often have their own lists.

3. Set a Budget – Once you know what you already have, then you can make a list of what you need to buy. This will help you figure out how much you should expect to spend so you can establish a budget. If you set a cap before you shop, it will keep you from buying impulsively and overspending.

4. Know When to Shop – For the back-to-school items you need that are specific in brand or model, shop as early as possible to avoid the risk of stores running out. For more generic items such as school supplies, prices will drop closer to the start of school, so wait until then for steeper discounts if you can.

5. Know Where to Shop – It may seem convenient to get all your shopping done in one place, but hitting different sales will save money in the long run. For example, the best deals on folders and notebooks are at office supply stores, which offer these items for 15 cents to 30 cents during back-to-school promotions. You’ll also find good sales on school supplies at big-box retailers, such as Target and Walmart. You’ll likely get better deals on clothing by shopping online because retailers typically offer coupon codes on their sites that can be used to score even bigger discounts on sale items. You also can find coupon codes at sites such as coupons.com, promotionalcodes.com, and retailmenot.com.

6. Look for Multiple Ways to Save – If you’re shopping at a sale in a brick-and-mortar store, use a coupon app such as the apps from Coupon Sherpa or RetailMeNot to see if retailers have any coupons you can upload on your phone and present at the register. You can use a comparison-shopping app such as RedLaser to scan the barcodes of products in stores to see if other retailers are are offering those items at lower prices. You can also use discounted gift cards from sites such as Cardpool and Gift Card Granny that sell cards for less than face value to score instant savings. When shopping online, using a cash-back site that lets you earn back a percentage of the money you spend on qualifying purchases.

7. Follow Your Favorite Retailers – Sign up for their email alerts for exclusive deals, coupons, and sale notifications, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

8. Take Advantage of Student Discounts – Retailers such as Apple, Microsoft, and Dell offer student-only pricing on laptops and often attach a free gift card tot he purchase for printers, e-books, or apps.

9. Buy Used or Rent – Textbooks are cheaper used (and even cheaper when you rent them). Also consider buying items such as computers refurbished rather than new. Refurbished tech items, which are used but restored to like-new condition and often have a one-year warranty, can cost half as much as the original price.

10. Swap – Reach out to other parents you know to see if they have clothing or other items their kids have outgrown that they’re willing to give to you or sell for a low price. Although the clothing has been used, it will still be “new” to your kids.

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