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Assorted school supplies for back-to-school

It might surprise you to know that the back-to-school shopping season comes in second only to the holidays for total spending. According to The National Retail Foundation, this year’s spending is expected to ring in at a record-setting 80.7 billion for all students from kindergarten to college.

backpack with filled with money-saving back-to-school shopping tipsThe annual spending spree on backpacks, school supplies and school clothes can put a huge dent in the family budget, and it can be tempting to overspend. Here are some ideas on how to save money on back-to-school shopping:

Take stock

Supply lists often call for scissors, rulers, pencils and other items you probably already have at home. See what you have and what’s still usable from the last school year. Explain to kids that repurposing and recycling a portion of the necessary supplies frees up money in the budget to spend on other things.

Stick to the list

Teachers’ supply lists have become more extensive. Sticking to the list and avoiding impulse purchases will help you stay within the budget.

Comparison shop

Dollar stores, big-box retailers and office supply stores offer deep discounts on many school essentials. Save money on back-to-school shopping by seeking out the best prices and stocking up on items children use throughout the year. Bring ads with you and ask stores if they will price match.

Use coupons

Many websites publish coupons on back-to-school clothing and supplies. You might also be able to find your children’s favorite brands on Facebook and Twitter with special coupons available only to followers. And don’t forget money-saving mobile apps like Target Cartwheel for instant savings on the go.

Swap or shop second-hand

Clothing and school uniform swaps are a popular choice to stretch the back-to-school budget. Get a few families together, have everyone bring some snacks and spend an afternoon swapping clothes the kids have outgrown. Backpacks are great for swapping, too. Additionally, second-hand shops, Craigslist and eBay are good options for finding trendy and brand-name gear at a fraction of the cost.

Shop tax-free

Many states offer tax-free shopping days during back-to-school seasons. Find out if your state is participating, and buy your big-ticket items then.

 Make it a Teachable Moment

Kids will feel invested in the process when they actively participate. Let them know the budget for clothing and supplies and allow them to help make buying decisions. Choosing between blowing the back-to-school budget on pricey items or stretching their dollars with sensible purchases will teach a powerful lesson about the value of money.

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