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The end of Summer means the end of carefree days for your kids and that dreaded dent in your wallet as you buy this year’s school supplies. Most school systems have experienced budget cuts over the last few years and parents are being asked to provide even more as part of their child’s school supply list. When families have more than one child, or an older child with more technology requirements, these requests can seriously impact their budget if not planned for properly.
With a little planning and some savvy shopping, you can save money this year on the necessities while making some spending room for extras in your budget. Follow these proven strategies to save money this year on all of your back to school supplies shopping.
Most counties will provide a list of the school supplies needed for each grade level to help ensure your child is prepared for this year’s lesson plan. Be careful not to pre-purchase too many school supplies before checking this list to keep from wasting money on items they can’t use or don’t need. Your child’s school website is often the first place to look for this list and is usually available for download. Many local retailers will also maintain these school supplies lists to help their customers make the right purchases when at the store.
It’s important to pay close attention to the list’s details about the type of items your student needs, their quantity, and any specific features that are required. Buying washable markers when the list states the need for permanent markers could create an issue down the line for your child. While tempting to buy only generic products for this list, teachers have had years of experience with both brand name and generic versions of certain items. If the list names a specific brand, like “XYZ brand” glue vs just glue, the teacher has a definite reason for this request and you should stick with it. Otherwise, buying generic items should be good enough when completing the rest of the list.
Involve your child in the back-to-school shopping process early to help set expectations and save money when buying school supplies. Review the supplies list together and assign a priority level to each item from your child’s view, including any one-off items they might ask for. Having this conversation and a pre-set budget will help you eliminate a lot of impulse buys and arguments once at the store.
Set expectations for some of your purchases if you plan to make use of items beyond the current school year. Buying a backpack with this year’s favorite superhero or princess can mean paying a premium now and almost guaranteeing that your child will not reuse it next year. Instead, assign a bit more of your budget toward these types of long-term school supplies to buy higher quality items so that next year’s budget can go further.
Local retailers know that back to school can mean a huge increase in foot traffic and purchases of other items beyond your school supplies list. Even non-traditional stores, like grocery stores and drugstores, will offer products below their actual cost to draw in customers during this shopping season. Starting as early as July, stores begin marking down items like paper, pencils, and markers that can mean big savings for you if you follow the sales. Sign up for your local retailer’s flyer mailing list to know when school supplies are available at a deep discount.
Shopping online has become second nature to many of us as we seek bargains and want to educate ourselves on the best options to buy.
Combining an online shopping strategy with your local back to school sales can help you save even more money through special offers, coupons, or rebates on items you are searching for. Sign up for your favorite store’s email list for access to discounts, free shipping, or other perks when completing your school supplies list. Some stores also provide coupons and offers through text messaging as another means of staying in touch with their customers. Both of these services can be unsubscribed from at any time while opening the gate to savings when you need it most.
Read and understand different retailers’ price-match guarantee policies to take advantage of the best prices available when shopping locally. These policies often allow you to take advantage of their deals even if there isn’t a physical location in your area. This means that a special on notebooks at a big box store or a deal on laptops at a technology store can still be redeemed at your local retailers when you show a physical ad or online deal in person. Price matching can also be used to save time by purchasing all of your school supplies at one location without traveling from store to store finding the best deals.
Learn more about price-match guarantee policies and how you can take advantage this year.