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back to school

5 Budget-Friendly Ways to Get Ready for Back to School

August 3, 2017

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As a parent, you’re probably looking forward to sending your kids back to school. The school year represents normalcy and getting back into a routine.

But, that back to school bliss may be cut short when you get ready to buy those school supplies.

Even if you are a smart shopper and plan ahead, buying everything on your child’s school supply list, as well as new school clothes, shoes, etc. can set you back hundreds of dollars. Especially on a tight budget, that’s a hard pill to swallow.

School supply shopping doesn’t have to break your budget, though. Use these 5 simple, budget friendly tools for getting your kids back to school ready.

1. Set a Budget

Set a budget so you don’t overspend. In the stress of the last few weeks of summer, it can be easy to throw your budget out the window for the sake of just getting everything on your to-do list done.

Before you even set foot out the door or click that mouse, make sure you have a definitive number for your school supplies budget. If you don’t have a hard-line amount budgeted for school supplies, you might spend more than you can actually afford.

You don’t want to be hurting for money before your next pay check, so take a few minutes to lay out exactly what your finances can handle.

My favorite free tool to help with budgeting is Personal Capital. Their mobile app makes it easy to check your budget on-the-go while shopping for back to school.

2. Plan Ahead

Watch store ads for when school supplies start going on sale. Amazon, Target, and more will start putting out their store ads for back to school in early August. Plus, if you shop with your Target RedCard, you can save an extra 5% and get free shipping!

Find out if your area has a tax-free holiday. During the tax holiday, certain clothes, shoes, and school supplies are exempt from sales tax.

Make sure to plan ahead and go shopping early on those days, because more popular school supply items might run out of stock. Not having to spend that extra 6-8% (or more) in sales tax will save a lot of money.

By planning on getting your school supply shopping done during the tax holidays, you will be able to stretch your dollars to buy more or higher quality items with your money.

3. Shop From the List

It’s tempting to let your kids pick whatever they want from the school supply aisles. Make sure that you’re shopping from their list though. Those small unnecessary items can really add up quickly.

If you are shopping online, Amazon has a school supply list search engine, which make it easy to buy from and check off the school supply list.

4. Amplify Your Savings Online

You can save money while shopping online by using a comparison search engine like PriceGrabber or Google Shopping. Just type in the item that you are looking to buy, and prices for multiple locations will show in the search results.

Consider using tools like Paribus to help you get money back if prices drop after you buy your school supplies. It automatically checks to see if you are owned money back if prices drop after you buy your school supplies.

You can also turn in any Swagbucks you’ve earned to get an Amazon gift card to help pay for school supplies too. Swagbucks gives you points for things you’re already doing online anyway, like searching the internet, watching videos, and more. You can redeem your Swagbucks for gift cards for Amazon, Target, and more.

5. Shop at Discount or Closeout Stores

Gabe’s, Big Lots, Dollar General, Roses, and Tuesday Morning are my favorite discount stores for finding inexpensive school supplies and back to school clothes. Also check your local dollar store to see if you can pick up items like tissue boxes and wipes.

Stay away from cheaply made pens or highlighters though, which may dry out or break. Sometimes it’s best to pay a little bit more for quality so that you don’t have to go out and replace the cheaply made items later in the year.

Although it’s not exactly a discount store, shopping at Target is also a great way to save money on back to school. If you use the Target Redcard, you can save 5% and get free shipping with no extra work needed on your part.

Related Post: 5 Ways College Students Can Save Money This Fall

Don’t Lose That Excitement

School supply shopping can be a huge burden for a lot of families. The stress of figuring out how you’re going to pay for it all can really have a negative effect on the experience.

Do your best to be a savvy shopper. Look for good deals and coupons before you head out to buy everything on that list, take advantage of the tax holidays, and price compare online. A little bit of advanced planning can really help protect your budget.

Your excitement will excite your kids, and back to school shopping will become a fun childhood memory for them.

How do you save money on back to school shopping?

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Kristi Muse

Kristi Muse is a freelance writer, blogger, police officer’s wife, and millennial mom to two beautiful children. She loves homeschooling, organic gardening, sustainable living, and cooking from scratch. To hire Kristi as a freelance writer or to read more about how she lives a balanced life, visit her website or follow her on twitter @moderatemuse.

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2 responses to “5 Budget-Friendly Ways to Get Ready for Back to School

  1. We’re reusing a few things from last year, shopping my stash of school supplies purchased for dirt-cheap during past years, and buying everything we can at the back-to-school sales.

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