As the summer winds down, your list of back-to-school supplies may seem never-ending. Whether you are shopping for backpacks or dorm room decor, school supplies may be one of your biggest expenses of the year. Luckily, there are ways to stock up on everything your child needs without breaking the bank. Here are some ways to get away with spending less.
Start with a back-to-school budget
Before filling up your Amazon cart, take some time to make a back-to-school shopping plan. It may help to make a list of everything you already have—and what you will need to buy. Chances are, you may still have some leftover, unopened supplies from last year.
To create a realistic budget, review last year’s spending. Pull up last year’s bank statements and tally how much you spent on school supplies. You can use those numbers to create a basic guideline for this year. As you start buying supplies, keep track of everything you spend.
Always compare prices for big-ticket items
If you need to buy electronics like a computer, laptop, or tablet, try to avoid paying full price. Often, you can find refurbished electronics offered at a steep discount. It also may be possible to buy refurbished products through the original company. These products may come with some type of warranty or money-back guarantee.
Be sure to use your student ID
If you are shopping for your college student, have them join you with their student ID. Hundreds of big box stores offer student discounts. Some stores may ask you to register before buying products online. Others may ask to see your student ID in person. You may never know what discounts may be available, so don’t forget to ask in advance—no matter how small.
Take advantage of cashback offers
Before making a round of back-to-school purchases look for cashback deals. You may have free cashback offers for certain stores through your existing credit cards. Mobile apps like ibotta may also be a good source of weekly deals. While shopping online, try browser extensions like Rakuten, formerly known as eBates, before buying anything. Keep your eyes open for double and triple cashback offers.
Sign up for rewards programs
Many of the most popular big box stores have rewards programs. Sign up before you start shopping for access to exclusive coupons and cashback deals. You can do most of your shopping at whichever store offers the best perks. You may choose to earn rewards all year long and use them on next year’s back-to-school shopping, too.
Stick to consignment and thrift stores for clothing
It may be tempting to visit the mall for a back-to-school shopping spree, but you should try local second-hand stores first. Often, the clothing is stylish and in excellent condition. You may even score clothing with the original price tags. It’s a great option for children who will likely outgrow their wardrobe before the end of the school year.
Save on back-to-school shopping by planning ahead
As you are trying to squeeze out the last few drops of summer, you may not feel like planning out your back-to-school shopping. But the truth is, it may be the best way to avoid impulsive purchases. By creating a budget—and sticking to it!—you will be less likely to overspend.
Disclaimer: the content presented in this article are for informational purposes only, and is not, and must not be considered tax, investment, legal, accounting or financial planning advice, nor a recommendation as to a specific course of action. Investors should consult all available information, including fund prospectuses, and consult with appropriate tax, investment, accounting, legal, and accounting professionals, as appropriate, before making any investment or utilizing any financial planning strategy.