Jul 16, 2019

5 Back-to-School Hacks to Help You Save

mother and daughter back-to-school photo

Even though the end of summer is just a few weeks away, back-to-school shopping is the furthest thing from your mind. Your family isn’t ready to pack up the beach towels and put away the sunscreen just yet. But, planning your back-to-school shopping early can help you spend less than the national average of $680 per child. As you soak up the last days of summer, review this list of simple hacks to keep more money in your wallet.

1. First Stop: Your Home

On the last day of school, kids clean out their lockers. Some will transfer everything from their lockers straight to the trash can, while others will stuff their backpacks and bring locker contents home–old lunches and all. Do you know where your child’s backpack is right now? It might be in a closet stuffed with reusable supplies. Check the backpack pockets and sides for pens, pencils, erasers, etc.

2. Jot Down the Must-Haves

Refer to the school-issued shopping list to decide which purchases are required vs. those that would be nice to have. After watching this summer’s blockbuster movies, your child might want a new character-themed lunch box when the one from last year is still in great shape. Optional items can be purchased at a discount shortly after school starts (See Number 4).  Sticking to your shopping list can help you from becoming distracted by items that your child doesn’t need and might not use.

3. Don’t Skip Thrift

Thrift and consignment stores are often overlooked when parents decide where to make their back-to-school purchases. These stores sell new and gently used office and school supplies for a fraction of the cost of comparable items sold at office supply stores. Call your local thrift stores and ask about upcoming sales to save even more money.

4. Wait … If You Can

Avoid making purchases for the entire school year right now. This includes stockpiling notebooks, glue sticks, and markers or purchasing optional items such as the newest graphing calculator when last year’s model works fine. Delay these purchases until the second or third week of school. Back-to-school supplies are discounted 75 percent or more during this time. It’s unlikely that your child needs twenty notebooks the first week of school. Resist the temptation to buy for the entire year, even if an item is on sale, as it will likely be discounted even more after school starts.

5. Direct Deposit into Savings Account

Deep discounts on back-to-school-related purchases such as seasonal coats, jackets, shoes, etc. are found in the off-season. Setting aside money for these purchases in advance can lead to even more savings. When purchases are made in cash or with your debit card instead of a high-interest rate credit card, your wallet will thank you. Paying with a credit card can turn a deep discount into a financial dud. Open a savings account today and start saving for next year.

Saving money while shopping for back-to-school supplies is possible with a little pre-planning. Use these hacks to take charge of your spending before the first-period bell rings.