7 Ways to Stretch Your Budget for Back-to-School Shopping

by Maureen Callaghan

The summer has flown by, and back-to-school shopping is here. It’s tempting to procrastinate on shopping for clothes, supplies and other items that your children need for the start of the school year. If you’re like me and many other moms, you’re going to wait a few weeks before school begins to start shopping. Thirty-percent of shoppers wait one to two weeks before the start of the school year to buy the items they need for their kids, according to the National Retail Federation.

It’s true that you’ll save more on back-to-school shopping the earlier you start. But don’t worry, you can still find great deals if you decide to wait until a few weeks before the school year begins. The National Retail Federation expects families to spend about $630.36 on supplies, clothes and electronics while back-to-school shopping in 2015. There are definitely ways that you can undercut this projected spending by changing up your shopping strategy.

I want to share with you some tips on how to stretch your dollars while back-to-school shopping. These are tips I’ve followed as well as tips I’ve received from checking out mommy blogs.

  • Shop for clothes at your local thrift store. Many of the clothes available at thrift stores are in great condition. Our children sometimes can be messy and rough in their clothes, so it’s unnecessary to spend a lot of money on new clothes that they’ll get dirty and quickly outgrow.
  • Purchase supplies at your area dollar store. I recently read that the average family will purchase an average of $97.79 on supplies, including notebooks, pencils and backpacks this year. You can spend much less on these items as well as crayons and markers by shopping at your area dollar store. In some cases, you can potentially save up to 50 percent on markers, pencils and more. Some dollar store chains will also accept manufacturers’ coupons.
  • Check your stock of supplies. Before you hit the stores, take the time to check for any leftover school supplies and other items that you may have tucked away somewhere in your closet, cabinets, and old backpacks. You’d be surprised at the pens, spiral notebooks, folders and more that you stored away during the previous school year. We all become busy during the school year that we forget about items we previously bought.
  • Price match on supplies and other items. Several big box stores and grocery stores participate in price matching. If you’re shopping at Store A and you bring in a competitor’s ad that shows their prices on certain school items are less expensive, then Store A will match that competitor’s price.
  • Get deals from mailing lists. Subscribe to online mailing lists from stores that have items that your kids need for school. Stores will often include coupons that customers can only get from their mailing lists to use on back-to-school merchandise.
  • Download apps designed to help you save money. There are a couple of apps you can use for back-to-school shopping that can help you find deals and discounts. If you don’t want to use paper coupons, then use the SnipSnap app to scan the coupon featured in a circular ad and then you can redeem this same coupon that is now on your mobile phone. The app also enables you to search for bargains at retailers and some restaurants. Another app called shopkick enables you to download current deals and rack up points for walking into a store where you will scan the discounted product and then make a purchase. You can save money purchasing the discounted item as well as get rewards.

I hope these tips can help you save money as you shop for the upcoming school year. Good luck shopping for bargains, and I hope you and your families have a great start to the school year!

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