Back-to-school shopping is the second busiest time of the year for retailers behind Christmas, and for most parents shopping for school supplies can even be a pricier time than the holidays.
The good news here is that there are a few tips and tricks to save time, money and energy when you’re back-to-school shopping this year. It just takes some creative thinking.
Here, a few of our favorite hacks:
1. Check out a dollar store first
You might be surprised by all of the basic supplies you can find at your local dollar store such as Kleenex, pencils, notebooks, crayons, and so much more. They even have calculators! Hit up one of these stores first to see just how much you can knock off your list before heading to other retailers.
2. Shop wholesale for the family
If you have more than one kid in school, check out Sam’s Club or Costco for wholesale pricing on school supplies and buy in bulk. This will save you a huge amount of time and money!
3. Shop when it’s tax free
Most states have a sales tax holiday weekend when shoppers can buy things without paying sales tax. You can get everything from clothing, and shoes, to computers and school supplies tax-free. Check the dates for the tax holiday in your state.
4. Wait it out
Hold off on buying your child an entire new fall wardrobe during the height of back-to-school shopping. Most of the time they won’t need their fall and winter clothes until after September anyways, and you can usually find better deals on clothing and shoes then (and even a better selection).
You also don’t need to feel pressured to purchase every single item on your child’s classroom supply list by the first day of school. Check with the teacher and see which items are needed immediately and buy the remaining ones later. Prices will drop in September when retailers are trying to get rid of excess inventory, so you might be able to save big by waiting.
5. Not all shopping days are created equal
Want to get first dibs on school supplies and clothes as they go on sale?
- Shop Macy’s on Tuesday or Wednesday for the best newly marked-down apparel. They start in-store markdowns on Sundays.
- Shop Kohl’s “Power Hours” where you can get 10-25% discounts on top of coupons. These come around a couple times a month and will be advertised online and in your local paper.
- Shop for clothes at Old Navy on Tuesday or Fridays. They do clearance markdowns on Monday night and price cuts on Thursdays.
- Shop Target clearance clothes for kids on Mondays. This is the day they do their kid’s apparel markdowns.
6. Keep all of your receipts
Make sure to keep your receipts and only take the tags off items as you need them. You might find that your child didn’t end up needing five folders or notebooks, so you can take some of the supplies back. It also makes it easier to make exchanges or returns if you accidentally pick up the wrong size binder.
7. Earn cash back
Avoid the crowds and shop online to make things easier and to earn cash back on everything you buy. Ebates, for instance, offers in-store cash back at just about every store you’ll need to go to for school supplies, clothing, and shoes. Check out Ibotta for cash back on in-store purchases, too.
8. Price match
The easiest way to save the most money without driving around to multiple stores is to price match. Read store policies to find out how to request a match online or in-store. The price usually has to be valid at the time you are making a purchase. Beware of exclusions and always ask a manager if you’re unsure about something. Use the Amazon app in-store to compare prices quickly. ShopSavvy is another app that will scan or search for items to see how much they are in stores and online.
Feature Image: Twenty20