Six Tips to Help Your Back-to-School Shopping Spree

It’s the weekend and you’re watching a movie marathon on your favorite channel, when suddenly a back-to-school commercial hits your screen. Almost immediately your relaxing weekend has flipped upside down and you’re now panicking about one of the most dreaded times of the year: back-to-school shopping. Usually the idea of back-to-school shopping makes you cringe and might even give you hives, amI right? It seems like this awful shopping trip comes earlier and earlier every year! However, back-to-school shopping shouldn’t be something you fear. (Don’t forget – your kids will be gone during the day again!) With these tips you can tackle this necessary shopping spree without damaging your wallet (and not to mention your sanity).7956993044_34c33fb43d_n

1. Keep an eye out for coupons:

Usually when you read your morning paper, you groan at the sight of back-to-school coupons. “It’s not even August yet,” you say. Don’t hate the coupons! Stores know that school is coming up, so they’re going to start putting ads and coupons in local papers to help you out. Cut them out and compile as many as you can. The money you save using coupons will really do wonders to the leftover money in your wallet at the end of day.

2. Prioritize and buy the most important items first:

Sometimes it may be tempting to buy that fancy new backpack to replace your child’s somewhat worn one (especially if your child has been “hinting” that he or she wants a new one). But sometimes your money is best going towards something more important first. If your child needs a graphing calculator and his or her backpack is still in good condition, you should buy the graphing calculator first. Spend your money on the important items initially, and then use the leftover money to splurge on less important items later if you wish (aka – save your pennies)!

 3. Evaluate what you already have:

Does your child’s school supply list say they need three binders? Well, check to see if you already have them. Most of the time your child’s school supply list will be almost identical to what it was like the year before. If last year your child needed three binders, odds are those binders are still in good condition. Don’t waste money on buying brand new ones – just use those again! When it comes to clothes, evaluate whether or not your child really needs new clothes or if he or she just wants new clothes. If it’s the latter, hold off on that trip.

4. Shop for gently-used clothes:

If your child actually needs new clothes, there are places you can go to get quality clothing for cheap. Instead of going to your usual stores and buying brand-new clothing, visit a consignment or thrift shop and look through their collection of gently-used clothing. Sometimes you can find brand-name clothing (like Calvin Klein, with the tags still on!) for just $15. Your teen would absolutely love that!

5. Buy necessary items bulk:

Your child may not need brand new binders every year, but he or she will always need supplies like paper and pencils. Stores like Staples and Office Max are awesome places to shop for these school supplies. These stores sell the necessary items for really low prices! (You can get subject notebooks from Staples for only one dollar!) Buy those necessary items in bulk. Go to Staples and buy ten subject notebooks (that will last you quite some time, potentially multiple years) for only $10!

6. Use your smartphone:

There are tons of apps available that can help you save while you shop. Apps like ShopSavvy, RedLaser, and Yipit can help you compare prices of items by scanning the barcode. Some stores even have created apps specific to them. Target’s Cartwheel app lets you find special coupons that you can use in store. Worried about the quality of what you’re buying? Not only does Amazon’s mobile app price compare, but it also provides product details and reviews to make sure you get the best quality item you can.

Next time you see a back-to-school commercial on TV, don’t freak out. Just remember these tips and enjoy the spree and save money!

Kara Vincent
Kara Vincent

Kara Vincent is the Financial Officer at Lancaster Red Rose Credit Union.