Back to school shopping can wreak havoc on a budget, especially if you have more than one child. According to a survey done in 2013 by the National Retail Federation, the average (American) family spends $635 on back to school clothes and supplies. Some families pay tuition on top of that. So how do you make sure your children have what they need without skipping the mortgage payment this month?
- Use Coupons. If you’ve received the dreaded double-sided school supply list from the teacher, take it to the store with you whenever you go. Check out the items on the list and see if there’s a match with the sales in your local store or coupons in your local paper. A dollar saved on 5 items is $5, which can buy another few notebooks, a package of pens, or a few days of lunches. Couponing might seem like a daunting task, but there are many blogs that do the matchups for you to make things easier, and you’ll find that the effort you put in will be well worth it in the end.
- Shop online. Subscribe to notifications on as many deal sites as you can. Sites like Amazon change prices several times a day, and all you have to do is know about it at the right time to save some cash. The deal sites do the work for you, so all you have to do is click and pay when you get the notification.
- Dollar stores. You can often get crayons, pencils, pens, and other school supplies at the dollar store for much less than you’d be able to get them in a “regular” store. Most dollar stores sell off-brand items for the most part, so take note whether or not your child’s teacher has a brand preference. Some do. Be sure to check other stores first as some offer supplies at bargain prices the dollar store cannot compete with. (50 cent Crayola Crayons, 5 cent notebooks, 10 cents paper refills etc…)
- Second Hand Stores. Second hand stores and consignment shops are great places to find back-to-school items. They’re especially good for those of you who have teenagers – you can find some great bargains on second hand electronics like scientific calculators, computers, and even band instruments.
- Yard Sales. Call them whatever you wish – yard sales, garage sales, or tag sales. There are deals to be found on everything from pencils to laptops. A lot of people find that shopping yard sales in wealthier areas is the key to getting the higher end items. Check your local paper and Craigslist for listings. If you’re not into browsing, you can always go the online yard sale route. There are hundreds of them going on 24/7 all over the country. You simply join a group, post what you’re looking for, and browse what other people are selling. It’s a win-win for everyone.
This is only a short summary of a few different ways to save on Back to School items. A little bit of thinking outside of the box (or backpack!) can end up saving you a bundle. You may even save enough to buy yourself a little treat too!
Elizabeth Lampman is a coffee-fuelled Mom of 2 girls and lives in Hamilton, Ontario. She enjoys travelling, developing easy recipes, crafting, taking on diy projects, travelling and saving money!