Your Back to School Savings Strategy

back to schoolThe average parent spends $600 to get just one child ready for school in the fall. You can greatly reduce this cost if you follow our step-by-step back to school savings strategy.

1. Make a list

Most schools post their school supply lists online to make it easy for parents to shop ahead. If yours doesn’t contact other parents to get an idea of what your child will need to bring to school in terms of pencils, notebooks, crayons, etc.

Do the same with clothing. How many shirts, dresses, pants, socks, shoes and other clothing items will your child need in the next few months? Being very specific will help prevent you from overbuying or purchasing duplicates.

2. Do a home inventory

Chances are that you already have some of the things that your child will need for school already in your home. Before you go shopping, do a home inventory of supplies. Go through your child’s clothes to see what can work for school. Put new outfits together and have your chid them on to make sure that they fit.

Evaluate items that your child used last year. Do you really need to purchase a new back pack and lunch bag, or can the old ones be cleaned up and used again?

Don’t forget to hunt for stationery supplies as well. You might just have some extra pencils, erasers, markers, notebooks and other items that you bought and didn’t use last year.

3. Research the sales

There can be some ridiculous back to school sales where you can pick up crayons for a quarter a box and bulk packages of pencils for just one dollar or t-shirts for two or three dollars. The secret is to watch the sales carefully and shop at multiple stores. You will find different “loss leader” items at each store. Stock up on those items only and move on to the next sale. Just make sure to hit a good sale early, because inventory can get snatched up quickly.

4. Use online price engines

For clothing and electronics, online shopping is the way to go. Use price comparison engines, and always look for free shipping or free shipping coupon codes, this way you won’t eat up your savings with shipping fees.

5. Go on Facebook and Twitter
“Like” and “follow” your favorite brands and stores so you can find out and qualify for special promotions and savings. Sign up for the mailing list, too, so you can get additional coupons to use that will reduce your overall back to school costs.

6. Shop at outgrown and consignment sales

This time of year, there are usually a number of kids outgrown and consignment sales where great clothing and supplies can be had at a fraction of the cost. If you miss out on the sales in your area, organize a clothing swap with other parents. Set a minimum number of clothing items that are free of rips and stains and go home with an equal number of free items that will fit your child.

Online classified ads and online exchanges and be other sources of gently used children’s items.