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Back-to-School Shopping Tips

back to school shopping

Back-to-School Shopping Tips

Whether attending school in-person or virtually, there are some essential supplies that kids will need. To ensure you’re being efficient and not breaking the bank, we’ve compiled some tips to help make back-to-school shopping as stress-free and affordable as possible.

Check Your Inventory

Do you even need to go supply shopping? What types of unused supplies do you have around the house?

Naturally, stuff gets pushed to the back of closets or buried and forgotten deep in a drawer. Those items are still perfectly useable (and it’s very possible your kids won’t even know the difference). See if you can reallocate your fifth-grader’s backpack to your second-grader.

Additionally, have your children try on last year’s clothing to determine what needs to be replaced now or what can wait until Christmas or their next birthday. You can also look into clothes swaps or consignment shops in your area if it’s necessary to refresh their wardrobe.

The same goes for sports or hobby equipment. Network with other parents in your circle to see what, if anything, can be traded or even bought at a hefty discount.

Look for Deals

Different areas have planned back-to-school store events. Some states even offer sales tax breaks for a few days near the beginning of the school year.

Check online ads and retailers’ emails for the best prices, and watch for coupons (at places like Staples, Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Target, Office Depot, Dollar Tree, etc.).

Buying in bulk can also help to cut down on price-per-item (and you can squirrel away some for the next year unbeknownst to your children).

Also, don’t forget to ask about price matching! If you are being cautious this shopping season, most retailers can do these things online. For example, when price matching online, you typically only need to begin a chat with a customer service rep and ask if they can match with another store’s lower price or even offer you a promo code to make up the difference – you can also ask if they have a military discount code for you.

RELATED: Best Back-to-School Discounts for Military Families

Don’t Do It Alone

Let that happen if your spouse can take leave to do any in-person shopping. If your teenager can do her own online shopping, let her (making sure to check it over before hitting confirm). Don’t take on all the responsibility – and therefore the stress – of this time of year all by yourself.

Set Rules

If you have to take your children to shop for supplies or clothes, set ground rules to make the trip smoother. Things like, “You can get a new lunchbox OR a new backpack,” or “You can choose one item with a name brand or popular character,” can help to cut down on meltdowns in the store aisles.

If they get an allowance, make them use their money to buy those trendy items.

And make sure to write a list and stick to it. Don’t let impulse buys overtake you or your little ones.

Reconsider Your Shopping Date

Sometimes, schools send home next year’s shopping list at the end of the previous school year or posted online months before the first day of school.

As previously said, retailers tend to run back-to-school sales events, which typically means prices will be bumped due to demand. Shopping out of the typical cycle can mean you get a much bigger bang for your buck.

In terms of clothing, shop seasonally – buy winter clothes at the beginning of spring when stores mark it down to clear out inventory.

Some states and AAFES offer tax-free weekends.  Consider shopping on these dates, as some or all taxes are waived during these times.

If this is too late for this year’s consideration, keep it in mind for next year.