As usual, summer is flying by and back to school season is slowly making its way into the front shelves of every big retailer as we round the end of July. August is a huge back to school month and despite the great deals retailers promote, this season can be extremely pricey, especially if you’re shopping for more than one person.
In 2018, the National Retail Federation estimated that $82.2 billion will be spent on back to school shopping for kids in elementary school all the way through college. Last year, families planned to spend over $600 per child for school supplies, electronics and mostly clothes. How crazy! If back-to-school has you stressing about the financial investment the season seems to require, Consumer Sense has got you covered. We’ve rounded up our top 10 tips for saving money this upcoming back-to-school season.
1. First things first, check your own inventory before purchasing a retailer’s. Round up all of the salvageable school supplies in your own home from previous years and check off what you already have so you’re not buying a brand new pack of crayons for your first grader when the ones from last year are in great shape, a calculator for your high schooler when your older son upgraded his, or plates and cups for your daughter heading off to college when you have some to spare.
2. Going hand-in-hand with the previous tip, don’t buy things that are still in great shape. In my household, we had a rule for backpacks: only to be replaced if they were broken or seriously needed an upgrade. To prolong the style of your backpack or lunch box, buy solid colors just in case your little one grows out of those polka dots in the next couple of years.
3. As one of the categories that back-to-school shoppers spend the most money on, clothing is a must for saving money. Check out thrift or consignment shops before heading out to big name stores. Thrifting is great for basics like denim, plain or graphic t-shirts, jackets, and sneakers that never go out of style.
4. If you are looking to get some new clothes for your kids, try to stick it out until September, when the back-to-school season is wrapping up and stores have discounts for fall clothing.
5. Electronics are a huge and fairly new back-to-school supply for parents to take into consideration. Comparing prices can help cut costs by using apps like Shopsavvy or Honey which allow you to scan a barcode and lists prices from several different retailers.
6. You can even consider buying certified used electronics from sites like Amazon and Ebay or directly from the manufacturer that are covered by a warranty. Think about what you really need from a laptop or iPad, a used laptop that uses Microsoft Office applications like word and powerpoint could suit your child’s needs perfectly so you don’t feel obligated to buy the newest (and most expensive) electronic on the market.
7. For you college kids, dorm shopping is like refurbishing an apartment and items can add up fast. Make sure to use online check lists and advice blogs that talk about what you need and don’t need for college so you’re not buying something that’ll sit in your dorm all semester. And talk to your roommates to coordinate who’s bringing the big items like a fridge, microwave and mirror. In dorm rooms, the more space (and money!) you can save, the better!
8. Another great tip is to spread your shopping out throughout the summer. Buy a few things here and there and stow it away until September. That way, you’re not spending hundreds at one time and can gradually buy what you need rather than splurging during your big trip. Then, take inventory one last time before school starts to make sure you have everything!
9. College textbooks can be a killer! Don’t give in to the school book store right away. Use websites like SlugBooks and textsurf where you can type in the ISBN number to make sure you’re getting the right book, and compare several different rental and purchase options online from sites like Amazon and Chegg. Pay close attention to what you need though, if your course requires a one-time-only access code, chances are you can’t buy it used.
10. Last but not least, bring a shopping buddy! Find a parent or a friend with similar supply needs and split up some of the items. If you both need pencils, buy a pack of 24 and split it between the two. This works for college students too, go shopping with your friends and see what items you can split up like plates, silverware, and even snacks in bulk.
With these tips and tricks, you can be sure to enjoy more of your summer and turn the pricey upcoming school season into another smart shopping experience.
Be sure to leave us a comment if you use any of these ideas or if there’s something you want money-saving tips on or even a retail trend you’d like to know more about! Enjoy the rest of the summer and get ready to gear up for a great school season with Consumer Sense, where we make sense for you!