Beat the crowds and rack up the savings this back-to-school shopping season. With these 10 savings tips, you'll shop with confidence and put a little money back in your pocket!
It's easy to spend hundreds (even thousands) of dollars during back-to-school season. What kid doesn't want to go back to school in style? If you're shopping for several children, it can feel like certain doom for your wallet. But don't despair! Spin back-to-school shopping into a fun time where the whole family can feel like a million bucks without breaking the bank.
Having a pre-decided budget sets you up for success. Without one, you'll probably spend more than you want. Make a list of everything you need based on prices from your research to create a realistic overarching budget. By using the tips below, you might even have a little leftover to splurge on something for you! (Don't worry, our secret.)
The best way to stick to a budget is to fly solo — at least for the first round. That way, you can get in and get out with everything you've planned for, like pencils, folders, and notebooks. Then, you can always reassess your budget to see if there's room for anything your kids might be pining for, like that sequin backpack or the latest Nikes.
Did you know that smart cookies who use coupons can save anywhere from $30 to $50 a week? That's up to $2,600 a year! Sign up for the Save weekly mailer to get the best back-to-school deals delivered right to your door. It's packed with stellar savings on clothing, snacks, school and office supplies, and everything else you need to prep for fall. Just look for the smile!
If you have go-to favorite stores, subscribe to their lists early. They'll tip you off to upcoming sales and price drops on bigger-ticket items like backpacks, jeans, and shoes. Many online retailers give you 10%-20% off just for signing up.
Just because you get a deal doesn't mean you actually have a deal. To find the best possible prices and discounts, shop around. Price shop and ask stores to match the lowest. Also, hold out for the right sale. Most retailers offer their best prices around holidays and transitions between seasons. Mark your calendars, peeps!
Dollar stores are treasure troves of deeply discounted everyday basics, toys, and decorations. Pick up essentials like tissues and hand sanitizer going for much cheaper than the grocery store. But the real joy is in the school supply aisles, where you'll find rainbows of pens, crayons, stickers, construction paper, gift-bag goodies, and more.
If you don't have a dollar store nearby, scan Target's Dollar Spot, a $1-$3 section usually right by the entrance. Sift through to find shiny pencil cases, planners, water bottles, calendars, and journals.
Back-to-school shopping, especially for older kids, often means pricey electronics or accessories. Save money by looking for refurbished deals. Go to retailers like Apple, Dell, and Best Buy to ask if they offer gently used laptops and tablets. If you have older devices, you can often trade those in for store credit, too.
Outlet stores are always in style for finding name brands at lower prices. These one-stop meccas often have more variety and better sales than the same retailers in department stores. They're also great for out-of-season finds like winter coats. Because outlets often don't follow holidays or seasons, you can find steals year-round. Getting stocked up all at once is worth the day trip!
Give yourself enough time before school starts to spread your spending over a few weeks or months. That way you don't have to go overboard on your monthly budget. Your bank account will thank you! Not to mention, an early start gives you time to research the best deals. Don't forget to check in with Save.com each week for the latest deals!
Also, certain products and retailers have better sales at certain times of the year. Denim and tennis shoes, for example, are out of season in the summer, so it's much harder to find sales. On the other hand, stores like Target and Walmart want school supplies cleared out around the end of August to start on Halloween decor. If you time it right, you can get a headstart on clothes by buying a bit each month, then take advantage of major savings by the end of summer too! Starting right will give you the most budget freedom, and help you stay on track with your monthly goals so you don't have to take a big hit!
When it comes down to the wire, ask yourself: "Is this something the kids need, or something they want?" In a perfect world, buying both would be amazing, but sometimes life happens and you've got to make a choice. After you set your general budget, make a list of the must-haves for the season...as well as the things you would love to get for your kids. That way, you can prioritize the needs.
The best part of a "needs and wants" list? When you reach your budgeting goals, you can give your kids a little treat with the money you've saved! And if it's something they can hold out for—like shoes they don't absolutely need, or fancy headphones—you can shop holiday sales and surprise them for the second half of the school year.
It might be summer, but back-to-school savings are already starting. Avoid the last-minute crowds by getting a head start so you can save the most and check everything off your list.