This post is sponsored by RetailMeNot. As always, all opinions and ideas are entirely my own.
This month is sort of a bittersweet one for me. For the past 20+ years, the month of August has been blur of back-to-school preparations. But as my youngest finished high school this past summer, there isn’t any back-to-school prep for me to do this year! In many ways it’s a relief, but it’s a bit sad too. Like I said – bittersweet. :-)
I was recently contacted by RetailMeNot about collaborating on a post about back-to-school shopping, and it felt very fortuitous! I may not be doing any back-to-school shopping this year, but I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks over the years for making the experience easier and more affordable. So I’m excited to have the opportunity to share those tips with you today! (And I’m also excited about the amazing $200 giveaway that RetailMeNot has arranged just for you guys! You’ll find more details on that later in the post, so don’t miss out!)
I couldn’t start a post about back-to-school shopping without mentioning RetailMeNot specifically! RetailMeNot is an indispensable service when it comes to finding coupons, discounts, and deals on everything you need for the coming school year. And the RetailMeNot app makes it even easier to save money. When you’re out shopping, just use the app to search for nearby deals that you can use at checkout. The store clerk can scan the codes right off your phone, and you can save yourself quite a bit of money!
In addition to utilizing RetailMeNot and the app, there are plenty of other ways to make back-to-school shopping easier and less expensive. Check out these tips, and don’t miss the amazing giveaway at the end of the post!
15 Back-To-School Shopping Tips
1. Have A Plan
Back-to-school shopping can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! The best way to make your shopping go smoothly is to have a plan. If your child’s school provides a supply list, print it out and use it to find deals in stores or online.
If your child’s school doesn’t provide a specific school supply list, you can easily find supply lists online to help you make a shopping plan. Just Google “[your child’s grade] school supply list,” and you should find plenty of helpful results!
2. Set A Budget
Determine how much you’re willing to spend on school supplies before you go out shopping. You can look up prices and deals online beforehand, or you can just shop online to keep things simple. Buying generic items rather than name brand ones can help keep you from breaking the bank on supplies!
3. Break It Up
Once you have a list of what you need to buy before school starts, consider breaking it up into smaller lists (and smaller shopping trips). Buying a few items at a time can keep you from feeling like you’re emptying out your bank account on one big shopping trip.
4. Don’t Shop Too Early
Some of the best prices on school supplies don’t start until late August and early September, when back-to-school items start to go on clearance. Many states also have sales tax-free weekends in late August. Waiting a few weeks to get the bulk of your supplies can really pay off!
5. Wait To Save
As far as shopping for clothes goes, you’ll have to wait a bit longer for the best prices. The best time to buy fall clothes is usually in October, especially over Columbus Day weekend.
6. Mix & Match
Do a combination of online and in-store shopping. Buying clothes and backpacks online can save you time and money, and you’ll find a wider variety of styles and prints available. But for basics like notebooks, pencils, and binders, it may just be easier to make a trip to the store.
7. Utilize Online Services
Many stores offer special back-to-school services this time of year. For example, Walmart offers same-day store pickup when you order certain school items online. And many Walmart and Target locations work with local schools to get access to their specific school supply lists, and you can add items from the list to your cart with just one click!
8. Shop Office Supply Stores
Make sure to include office supply chains like Staples and Office Max in your shopping plan. Office supply chains often get overlooked when it comes to back-to-school shopping, but they often have great deals and they tend to be less crowded than places like Target or Walmart. Some office supply chains offer certain items like pencils for as low as 1 cent (provided you buy at least $5 in other items as well).
9. Don’t Forget Dollar Stores!
You can save some serious money by doing a portion of your back-to-school shopping at dollar stores. These competition for back-to-school business is fierce at dollar stores, and many of them are close to larger stores. Stop in at the dollar store first, then round out your shopping at the larger stores.
10. Team Up
If you know any of the parents of kids in your child’s grade, you may want to consider teaming up with them to buy supplies in bulk. Kids in the same grade typically have the same school supply needs, so buying in bulk and divvying the supplies up be a great way to save!
You may also want to consider teaming up with other parents to organize a clothing and sporting equipment swap. Sports equipment can be really expensive to buy new!
11. Avoid Campus Chaos
Online shopping is a no-brainer for kids just starting college, or moving back on campus. College students shopping for dorm furniture and decor can shop online, then choose to pick the items up at a store location near campus. This can help make the move a lot less hectic!
12. Cheap Dorm Decor
Another good tip for back-to-college shoppers is to keep an eye on Craigslist or Free-Cycle.org. Many people get rid of their dorm decor after the school year is up, and if you’re lucky you can find a lot of great dorm items that look barely used.
13. Get The Kids Involved
Get the kids involved in the back-to-school shopping experience! Print your supply lists before you go out shopping with the kids, and give them pencils to mark off the items as you go. They’ll feel more involved when they get to help find the items on the list!
14. Make It Fun
The thought of back-to-school shopping is often worse than actually doing it. So make it fun by making a day of it! Stop at your favorite lunch spot for a midday break, and make sure to reward yourself when it’s all said and done.
15. Give Back
While you’re shopping for your child’s school supplies, pick up a few extra items to donate to your child’s classroom. (Or better yet, contact your child’s teacher and ask if there is anything specific they need.) Many teachers have an extremely limited budget for classroom supplies, and could use all the help they can get. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to teach your kids about giving back.
Enter To Win A $200 Giveaway!
RetailMeNot wants to give one lucky reader a back-to-school shopping spree! One lucky OGT reader will receive a $200 Visa gift card to go towards your back-to-school shopping.
How To Enter
Check out RetailMeNot’s Back-to-School deals at this link. Then leave a comment at the bottom of this post describing what deal(s) you are most excited about, and why they would help your child get ready to go back to school!
For instance, one of the deals I saw on RetailMeNot was up to 50% off Nike footwear. I could get my son a pair of the Nike’s he loves for $55, rather than the retail price of $90 – score! :-)
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to eligible legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C. at least the age of majority in their jurisdiction. Begins: August 28 at 12:00:00 AM ET. Ends: September 9, 2017 at 11:59:59 PM ET. Subject to Official Rules available at http://mediakix.com/sweepstakes-onegoodthingbyjillee-retailmenot/. Void where prohibited. Sponsor: Mediakix LLC.