7 Ways to Save on Back-to-School Shopping

Anna Cadwallader
August 21, 2013



Back-to-school season can be a bittersweet time for students who are excited for the new school year but sad to see the relaxed days of summer come to an end. It’s a proud time seeing your little ones growing up before your eyes, but it can also be stressful because of the endless dollar signs associated with buying new items for the year. Here are seven ways to save on back-to-school shopping so you can focus on more important things, like enjoying the last days of summer.

1. Shop at Home

During the back-to-school frenzy, we’re plagued by glitzy advertisements for the “must-have” trends. This year, ignore the gimmicks and evaluate what you already have. Your child doesn’t need the latest and greatest pen to get straight A’s — a basic one from your stash of company or hotel pens will do the same job. Look around your house for extra school supplies before you shop to avoid buying unneeded items.

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2.  Use Coupons and Find Sales

Before you hit the stores, do some research to find the best sales and use coupon sites and designated coupon blogs for extra savings. Shop at a store that offers price matching to ensure you’re getting the lowest possible price for items. Also, make sure to keep your receipts in case an item’s price drops. Some stores honor lower prices and refund you the difference.

A lot of deals come via email, so set up a designated email account for receiving stores’ promotional emails. Usually, when you sign up to receive a store’s emails, you’ll receive an initial percentage off and subsequent exclusive offers. Saving passes are another great way to save. For example, Staples offers a savings pass for $10 to get 15 percent off each purchase for a period of time.

3. Take Advantage of Being a Student

Many retailers offer student discounts, so if you’re going back to college, take advantage of being a student by using your student ID. For example, J.Crew and Banana Republic both offer 15 percent off of your full priced purchase. Similarly, Apple has certain offers for students buying laptops. Always ask about student discounts or ongoing sales before you purchase, as many of these aren’t heavily advertised.

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4. Shop for the Future

Some stores offer back-to-school deals you just can’t beat. If you find a sale that is too good to pass up, go ahead and buy supplies for the next year. You can stash away the excess to save money and avoid the headache of back-to-school shopping the following year.

5. Buy Durable Classics

This is a general rule of thumb for buying big-ticket items. A certain backpack might be the super cool item to have this season, but trends fade, which means this expensive backpack is going to end up hidden in your child’s closet. Or it’ll “break” unexpectedly. Both are frustrating situations, so avoid them by buying classic items that are neutrally colored and durable enough to endure a student’s rough and tumble lifestyle. For example, a black backpack would be a good choice because it can be worn with any clothing. The black won’t show dirt, and your child could use it for many years.

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6. Wait to Shop

This may not be a popular decision, but it’ll help you get the most bang for your buck. The worst thing is to buy brand new beautiful clothes for your child only to find them in his or her closet with the price tags still on months later. Avoid this by waiting for your children to go to school and check out the latest trends and “must-have” items. Then, when the time comes to finally go on that shopping spree, they’ll be ready to find items that they’ll actually wear.

7. Buy Tax Free

Several states have sales tax holidays, meaning you don’t have to pay sales tax on certain items when you shop. If you live in one of these states, shop on a sales tax holiday for extra savings.

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