Back-to-school shopping: parents share their tips

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Summer is in its second half, which means it’s time to start thinking about sending your kids back to school. If you’re like many parents, you might be ready to take a break from your adorable but energetic children, but you’re not looking forward to all the expenses associated with a new school year.

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According to the National Retail Federation, families expect to spend an average of $864 on back-to-school expenses this year, but hope to stay well below that figure. Luckily, many parents have tried-and-true tips they’re willing to share.

Ready to save big bucks on back-to-school shopping this year? Use these tips from seasoned moms and savings experts to get everything your kids need without breaking your budget.

Buy your house first

“To save money, we ‘buy’ our house first,” said Starr Wells, founder of the parenting blog Mom Hacks 101 and a busy mother of three children. “We scour closets and desks for newer clothes and school supplies that we already have.”

She said they do it because, even with back-to-school sales, kids’ clothes can get expensive.

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“I recommend that large families take full advantage of used clothing in good condition,” she said. “If your kids don’t have the same taste, you can always take the gently used clothes to a consignment store for store credit.”

Comparison store

Your standard school supply store might not be the cheapest, so Brad Godwin, revenue manager of shopping rewards app Shopkick, recommended shopping around before making a purchase.

“To maximize savings when shopping in-store, consumers should compare prices online before they even leave home, ensuring they’re getting the best deal,” said Godwin, who is also a savings expert. silver. “When it comes to shopping online, stockist websites like eBay, Depop, or Poshmark are great alternatives for paying top dollar for back-to-school clothes.”

think ahead

When you find a good sale, Godwin recommends buying more than you need now to save money later.

“It’s no secret that kids grow out of clothes quickly,” he said, “so taking advantage of BOGO (buy one, get one free) deals and buying different sizes is one way smart to increase your budget.”

Take advantage of tax holidays

If your state has a tax holiday, Godwin advised waiting until then to shop.

“Shoppers can make sure they take advantage of their state’s tax exemption so they can spend even less on items they would buy anyway,” he said.

For example, New Jersey has a sales tax holiday for certain products from August 27 through September 5, 2022. Some of the covered items include certain computers, school art supplies, school computer supplies, and school teaching materials.

Set up a PTA-Run exchange

Karen Aronian, a former public school teacher and college professor in New York City, recommended starting a PTA-sponsored exchange for school clothes, supplies and books.

“Every fall and spring, families can bring their gently used items to the exchange,” said Aronian, who is also founder of Aronian Education Design LLC, a full-service design firm. “Organizers can request items before the trade, sort and organize them, and then invite school families to the event.”

She said it was done at her children’s high school in Connecticut and she also saw it at an elementary school in New York.

Make promotional emails your friend

Chances are you get your fair share of promotional emails from brands. It can be boring, but Kathleen Fletcher, founder and CEO of kitty baby lovesaid you can use them to quickly find some of the best back-to-school deals.

“I have a separate email account which I use to subscribe to and most importantly receive emails and promotional offers from all my favorite brands and online retailers,” said Fletcher, who has three children. school age. “I avoid having my personal email cluttered with constant promotional material and concentrate all promotions sent to me in one place.”

To make it easier to find deals, it uses an email filter that removes all messages that don’t include related terms like “back to school” and “back to school deals.”

“Back to school sales actually start as early as May at select retailers,” she said, “so keeping an eye out for that email between May and August would be a great idea.”

Start shopping early

Waiting to start back-to-school shopping just before your kids’ first day of school can cost you dearly. Stephanie Eddy, founder of the parenting blog Dresses and dinosaurssaid she saves money by carefully monitoring weekly flyers from stores such as Target, Walmart and Staples.

“I start looking as early as the end of July, and if one of the stores is having a sale, I plan to buy the necessary school supplies at that time,” said Eddy, a mother of a second-grader and of a kindergarten. “It may seem super early, but it can help save a lot of money.”

wait for it

Timing your shopping until after the back-to-school rush can also save you money, said Julie Cole, co-founder of Mabel’s Labels and mother of six children.

“If you can wait,” she said, “September has great sales on new clothes and school supplies after the school rush.”

You may not be able to wait to buy everything on your children’s lists, but hold off on items that aren’t needed during the first few weeks of school.

Buy only what you need

It’s easy to get carried away with fun back-to-school supplies, but it can easily lead to overspending.

“Save your money and only buy what the teacher asks for,” Cole said.

Bundle up and buy in bulk

Chances are you already buy bulk items to save money from stores like Costco and Sam’s Club, so apply that philosophy to back-to-school items.

Cole said: “Go with other friends and family, buy school supplies from wholesale stores and share the package with everyone.”

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About the Author

Jennifer Taylor is a West Coast-based freelance writer with over a decade of experience writing about anything and everything. Since earning her MBA, personal finance has been her favorite subject, as she is passionate about writing stories that educate, inform and empower. Specifically, she specializes in budgeting, debt repayment, savings and retirement.

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