I was walking through Wal-Mart the other day and they had all their back to school stuff already on display! I’m talking AISLES of stuff! I remember thinking…they are really pushing it by putting it out this early…until I looked at my calendar this morning! YIKES! My high schooler has registration TODAY! HELP!
I do this EVERY YEAR! I never “plan” for Back To School Shopping! It always hits me like a bolt out of a clear blue sky…even though I’ve been doing it for the past 18 years! sheesh…you’d THINK I’d learn.
Not only is it always a mad dash to get everything we need…it’s also a financial CRUNCH because I haven’t set anything aside. Did you know the typical family will spend approximately $600 on back-to-school apparel, school supplies and electronics this year??? It’s all a bit overwhelming.
Well, I have combed the internet looking for USEFUL and PRACTICAL tips for Back To School Shopping for myself this year…and (of course) wanted to share them with you. Hopefully you’ll find something helpful too!
Here are some of my favorites:
Determine your child’s immediate needs: Maybe it’s a new backpack, long sleeve shirts, or tennis shoes. Spend on those items first, and plan on budgeting for the rest later in the year. source: mint.com
Shop for CLOTHING later
This is probably my favorite and one I try to do already. Of course my kids hate it…but makes so much sense! Starting the end of September and early October, department stores have to make room for holiday merchandise so they start hosting fall clearance sales. Buy a couple of outfits for the beginning of school year (I’m afraid this is mandatory…you can’t send your kids to school on the first day in something “OLD”! *gasp*) and buy the rest when these sales begin. It really helps break up the spending. Plus, in most states, the weather doesn’t change right away, so there’s no real need for fall clothing on the first day of school!
Bring Your Smartphone
Your phone is your “secret weapon” when school shopping! With smartphones in hand you can scan product bar codes or QR codes (those square patterns that can be read by smartphones) to learn more about the products you’re thinking of buying. The Google Shopper app allows people to scan a product’s bar code, and shows the prices for that same product at various stores in your area. Retailers also have their own apps. When you download the Best Buy Shopkick app, you will be notified of discounts of 10 to 15 percent off certain items when you enter a store. The “geek” in me LOVES this stuff. :-) source: usatoday.com
Oh…and Don’t Forget About Facebook
People spend 700 billion minutes per month on the global social networking site, and retailers realize that, so they are running promotions on the site. Target and other major retailers feature back to school deals that can only be found on their Facebook sites. So check them out and make Social Media work for you! source: abcnews.com
Justin Bieber notebooks are on every little girl’s wishlist. But character-branded school supplies usually cost more than plain ones. Instead of paying extra, host a “DIY” party for your kids and their friends where they can decorate their own notebooks and folders with photos from the Internet or pulled from magazines. Decorate inexpensive plain, white binders with digital photos by creating a collage and inserting the page into the plastic outer cover. Use the same idea for boys by featuring the latest superhero. Not only is it frugal, but it also helps your kids reconnect with their friends before the first day of class. source: people.com
Shop At Home First
Before you go shopping, take a home inventory of school supplies and clothes. Have your kids try on last year’s jeans to see if they still fit, and make a note of what basic clothing items need to be replaced. Look in drawers and cabinets to find the notebooks and calculators you already have. Any item already on-hand is a bonus freebie, so check the house for rulers and protractors, pencils and binder paper. source: schoolfamily.com
Not only will you be able to efficiently compare prices, but you are more likely to stick to your shopping list. It’s too easy to indulge in impulse buying in the stores. Be sure to check for online coupons before you click the “Checkout” button. Retailmenot.com makes it simple to search for any store’s current promotion codes.
Some of the best back to school shopping deals and great surprises are in the oddest places. Dollar stores for T-shirts and socks; drugstores for deals on snacks, and so-called flash sales (time-limited, steep online discounts) for clothing and beauty supplies. For students going off to college, shop at wholesale clubs for bulk purchases of those critical college staples such as instant noodles and granola bars.
I know it’s tempting to bring your child back to school shopping, as it feels like a right of passage, but it’s easy to get sidetracked by all the pretty, shiny things lining the back to school shelves. If you want to include your little one in the back to school fun, I suggest doing the bulk of the shopping beforehand, and then making a special trip with your child for a few fun extras. Set a budget and make sure you and you both stick to it.
You know you’ll need paper, pencils, glue sticks and notebooks. Dollar stores, warehouse stores and even eBay are sources for buying these and other basics in bulk. You and a group of other parents might be able to negotiate a group discount from an office supply store. Then set up a supply shelf or storage container in your home that you can use all year long. You’ll be able to avoid late-night shopping trips to buy notebook paper when you run out. And you’ll know where to find unused notebooks and pencils when it comes time to shop for back-to-school supplies next year. source: greatschools.org
You can save so much money when you send your kids to school with a homemade lunch. Added bonus: It’s likely to be a healthier choice. And you can monitor the cost of your homemade lunch purchases by using grocery store coupons, packing leftovers and reusing water bottles. source: people.com
Over the years, many quality consignment stores have cropped up that offer cash or store credits in exchange for gently used clothing. Not only are these great places to generate some quick cash for cleaning out a closet before school starts, they are also a good place to look for deals on designer clothing, if that is something you’re after. source: frugaldad.com
This really helps with big ticket items like computers or computer software. As a matter of fact…the good people at Microsoft are offering my readers 15% off Microsoft Office! This promotion ends on 9/14.
Microsoft Office is an item that should be on every mom (and kids) list, giving your kids everything they need to succeed, such as helping them collaborate on projects, take better notes and give more impressive presentations. Word has easy-to-use photo-editing tools and new photo effects, as well as automatic creation of a bibliography from in-paper citations. Excel helps kids aggregate and analyze date with the new Sparkline feature that gives a visual summary of the data. Kids can embed and edit videos with PowerPoint to make school presentations more dynamic. OneNote is like a digital notebook that helps kids get organized, capturing notes, images, video, audio and more.