Seven Strategies to Save on Back-to-School Shopping

The back-to-school shopping season is second only to Christmas for sales, making it an extremely important time for retailers. It appears that this year, customers are being extra thrifty. Slow sales in June, not to mention April and May, could indicate a difficult rest of the year for retailers, putting more pressure on back-to-school shopping to boost retail sales, according to Market Watch. Following some shopping tips to save money on back-to-school supplies gives parents a way to play their part in boosting the economy and properly equipping their kids without spending what they do not have.  

Use a List

It is easy to go overboard when shopping for back-to-school items because there is so much to get. To avoid overspending, make a list of the essentials and pick those those up first. Making a separate list of items that can wait until the next paycheck arrives or until they go on sale ensures that nothing is forgotten. Basically, you are delaying until the best time to buy. Use the supply list provided by teachers and consider individual needs, such as new shoes or a backpack. Shopping with a list also prevents impulse purchases, such as a winter jacket that will not be needed for many months.  

Save Money by Shopping Online

Not only are online prices often cheaper, but shopping online lets parents compare prices from multiple retailers to ensure they get the best deal. People are also less likely to deviate from their list when buying online, according to Mint. Supplies from backpacks to electronics are available from websites. Parents can buy clothing like sandals too without spending money on gas to hit the stores.  

Do Not Take Kids

Children do not understand budgets or the word “no” when they see things they really want. Bringing children shopping for back-to-school supplies is a recipe for disaster. Instead, buy most of the important items first and then bring children to buy a few personal items like shoes or shirts.  

Hold Off on Trendy Purchases

Kids are inevitably going to change their minds, especially when what is “cool” changes. Do not buy back-to-school items that are trendy before school starts. What is cool in the summer might not be what all the kids want when school starts. Waiting to buy things like lunchboxes until school begins prevents being asked to spend more money to replace “uncool” items later.  

Look For Student Discounts

Student discounts are not just for college students. They apply to anyone with a student ID. Many retailers like Apple and Verizon offer student discounts. Apply these to expensive items like cell phones and laptops for significant savings.  

Take Advantage of Sales

Many stores offer end-of-the summer and fall sales just in time for back to school. End of the summer sales are perfect for getting items like pens and paper that kids need when school begins. These are also great to take advantage of for warm clothing and backpacks. Fall sales may have warmer clothes that kids need once they are already into the beginning of school. These sales also provide an opportunity to stock up on supplies that need constant replenishment, such as folders and paper.

Shop on Tax-Free Days

Nobody likes paying taxes, including sales tax. According to, some state and local governments allow for tax-free shopping periods during the back-to-school shopping season. Tax-free days are also a good time to get big ticket items, such as a new computer or a scientific calculator. Keep in mind that some items are exempt from the tax-free deals though. Back-to-school shopping is going to be expensive, but with the right planning and savvy shopping, it does not have to break the bank.