16 Aug

Written by Kathryn Vercillo on August 16, 2010

It’s hard to believe it but it’s already time for students to get ready to go back to school. For many families, that means that it’s time to buy new back-to-school supplies and clothing. Research indicates that some families are feeling a little bit freer with their money this year as compared to last year but most families are still looking for ways to stay frugal when doing their back-to-school shopping this year.

Here are 20 easy ways to save money on back-to-school supplies for the kids:

1. Set a budget. We say this all of the time but it’s always worth saying again; create a budget for your spending and stick to it. This is the number one thing that you must learn if you’re going to live frugally. It definitely applies to back-to-school shopping. Figuring out how much money you actually have to spend will allow you to use it wisely to purchase the most important back-to-school supplies first.

2. Buy back-to-school clothing that can be worn throughout the year. Many parents get lured in to getting their kids the trendiest seasonal outfits so that they’ll fit in at school. Instead, help them to find frugal trendy clothes that can be layered and paired together to create outfits that they can wear to school throughout the year. Focus on the basics.

3. Search the house and office for supplies before buying anything. Make a list of everything that your kids need for back-to-school. This includes pens and pencils, calculators, computers, clothes, folders, backpacks, etc. Although there may be a few things that teachers require once class starts, you already know what most of the necessary items will be. Once you have the list, check around your home and office to see if you have any of the supplies. Chances are that you do. If you have extras of some things (like that huge bulk pack of pencils you bought last year) then see about trading with other parents to get what your kids need for free.

4. Use your mobile phone to get discounts. Many back-to-school shoppers are using their mobile phones to get mobile vouchers, information on deals and price comparison information while doing their shopping.

5. Shop for quality. Frugal Duchess recommends that you take the time to shop for quality items such as backpacks that will last throughout one school year and into the next. You may pay more now but you’ll save money in the long run.

6. Shop second hand. Rely on your experience with ebay auctions, yard sales and thrift stores to find good back-to-school items that are only gently used. Vintage lunch boxes, second hand clothing and other items that students need for school are often easy to find.

7. Focus on saving at the grocery store. One area of spending that often goes up when kids go back-to-school is food. Many parents make the mistake of spending too much on the foods that they put in their kids lunch boxes. Make sure that you stick with heathy, fresh foods that are cost-friendly. Buy in bulk appropriately for food items that kids will be taking for lunch every day.

8. Find ways to save money on books. Depending on the age of your children, some of them may need to purchase books for school. Look for half-priced books online to save money. Learn more about saving money on books.

9. Stick to the basics. Take a look at the notebooks that are for sale and you’ll see that the ones with sparkly covers are more expensive than the ones with plain solid covers. Likewise, pretty pencils are pricier than the basic yellow brand. Stick to the simpler version of basics like writing supplies to save money. Note that inexpensive stickers are a great way to let kids dress up the basics.

10. Take advantage to sales tax holidays in the United States. If you’re in the U.S. then you can reduce what you spend on back-to-school shopping by doing your shopping on your state’s tax-free holiday shopping days.

11. Make friends with a teacher. Did you know that teachers get discounts on many school supplies? If you happen to be friends with a teacher then you might be able to take advantage of their discounts when doing some of your family’s back-to-school shopping.

12. Do comparison shopping. It is worth it to see which stores are offering the best deals on which items.

13. Get free shipping and handling. Make sure that if you’re doing any of your shopping online this year then you use discount codes to get free shipping and handling on your purchase.

14. Consider that new haircuts are cheaper than new clothes. Many kids want to head to the first day of school in a new outfit that makes them feel confident. A new haircut achieves the same effect for many kids at a much lower cost.

15. Hold off for better deals on big ticket items. For example, if your child needs a new calculator or computer then it’s worth it to wait until you find a really low-cost deal. This may not come until a month into the new school year but most teachers can be accommodating until then.

16. Use back-to-school deals to stock up for Christmas. One great unique tip is to take advantage of the best sales now to buy stocking stuffers for Christmas this year. Wait until the very end of the back-to-school shopping season when things are clearance priced.

17. Buy your winter vacation tickets now. If your family is going to be using the kids’ winter break to go on vacation for the holidays then now is the best time to start looking for deals. The longer you wait, the pricier your winter vacation will be.

18. Plan out your school transportation with a mind towards frugality. Running the kids to and from school and after-school activities uses up a lot of fuel and that costs money. Work out plans for carpooling to save money.

19. Consider this an opportunity to teach your kids smart spending. Many parents get frazzled when shopping with their kids. They give in to requests for popular items while shopping. Instead, consider this a great time to teach your kids about saving money. Make sure that you are well-fed and energized when you take the kids out so that you’re in a good position to teach these lessons.

20. Use back-to-school promotional codes. A majority of stores release discount codes to help you save money on back-to-school shopping. Take advantage of these offers!

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  1. 2

    August 22nd, 2010

    There are some great tips here. One of the best tips is to focus on quality and not quantity when buying back to school supplies so that they last throughout the entire school year and maybe even on to the next year. For example, buying a sturdy backpack made out of of good material would be a better choice than buying a cheaper backpack with your student’s favorite cartoon character on it.

  2. 1

    August 17th, 2010

    Just found a 20% off coupon for the new Gripsharp pencil sharpener. Just use their coupon code – “backtoschool” when ordering. its a cool sharpener that stays on your child’s pencil and helps eliminate loss!

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