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I know what you are thinking: Where did the summer go? For many of us, school will start in just a couple of weeks, and believe it or not, you can actually save money while doing your back to school shopping! Keep reading for some tips for saving money and time as you tackle your kid’s list.

(No kids in school? No worries. Back to School season is also the perfect time to stock up on office and cleaning supplies!)

School Supplies

Most office supply and department stores stock their Back to School section and mark the prices down beginning in July. I start preparing in Mid-July by watching the ads for stores like Target, Staples, and Office Depot. Check out all of the ways that you can save when you are shopping!

  • Check that list. Many stores offer local school supply lists online. Simply find your child’s school and add all of the items to your online cart. If you prefer hands on shopping, simply use the online cart as a guide in store and delete items as you put them in your (real life) cart. Don’t forget to add additional items like a lunch box, backpack, shoes, and clothes to your child’s school supply list.
  • Shop at home. Before you buy new items, search around your home for supplies left over from last year. You may have stashed away some clearance finds!
  • Like to shop at one store and be done? Choose the store with the best overall end prices. Then utilize price matching to save even more. Make sure that you follow up on that store’s price matching policy before you head to the store, and carry those competing ads with you!
  • Check for store specific coupons. Always check your local stores for text or email promotions. Never shop at Target without scanning the items in the app for Cartwheel discounts.
  • Quality: I asked my teacher friends a simple question. Name brand or store brand? The answer was to buy name brand for items like Crayons (Crayola) and Pencils (Ticonderoga) and store brand for cleaning supplies. Sometimes spending a few cents more, will actually save you money in the long run. Those items may last longer.
  • Shop alone. Okay, this one may be hard. If at all possible, try to go to the store without your kids. This will help save you from impulse buys. Many elementary schools combine supplies, so your Kindergartner may not actually keep that Spiderman or Moana notebook for themselves. Stick to solid colors, and it will save you money. For the older kids, get their opinion before you head to the store.
  • Be organized. Before you shop, use store baskets or reusable shopping bags to separate each kid’s supplies in the cart. When you are finished, place all of the items in a plastic storage bin or reusable shopping bags. If you have multiple kids in school, label the box or bag with each kid’s name. You can then easily take the supplies to the school!

*Super Saver Tip: Order extras! Your child’s teacher may ask for you to send items like Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer later on in the year as they get low. 

Back to School Uniforms & Clothes

Whether the dress code is uniforms or regular clothes, buying a whole new wardrobe can add up. Use these tips to save money on everyday items.

  • Don’t buy full price. Wait until the uniforms are on sale, but buy them as soon as they are. Uniform shirts always go fast! My favorite stores for uniforms are Target, Old Navy, and Children’s Place. Stock up prices: $3 per shirt. $6 for pants.
  • Closet Check! Before buying a whole new wardrobe, go through last year’s supply. For those clothes that do not fit well, sell or donate.  
  • Buy Second-Hand. Check your local Facebook Marketplace or Consignment store/event for gently worn clothes.
  • Outlet Stores. For accessories and for those that do not wear uniforms, check your local outlet stores for big savings. I found a pair of name brand athletic shoes for my son for only $13 at our local outlets.
  • Remember shrinkage. Most uniform shirts that I have washed are no longer the size that I bought originally. Before you buy, check the material and size up if needed.

College Students

College students usually have a long, expensive shopping list as they go back to school. By following this short list, you can make that list a little less expensive.

  • Education Pricing: Apple, Best Buy, Adobe, Microsoft, Amazon, Spotify – just to name a few of the companies that offer student pricing. If you need to purchase electronics or a subscription, check for student pricing first.
  • Textbooks: Check online before heading to the college bookstore. Compare prices at Amazon, Chegg, and Ebay for extra savings on textbooks. There are also websites, like Chegg that offer textbook rentals.
  • Dorm Room: Setting up your student’s dorm room can be expensive. My favorite retailers for outfitting a dorm room are Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, and Kohl’s. All three offer coupons on top of already discounted prices.  Many discounted items can also be found at your local bargain store, like Dirt Cheap or Big Lots.

Lastly, find out if your state offers a tax free weekend here. If they do, compare any current discounts to the tax savings that you will get during the tax free weekend and choose the best option.