How to Save Money on School Supplies

by CashTime Loan Centers

In America the average family spends $600 per student on school supplies every year. If you’ve got three school age kids that adds up to $1,800 every year! That figure doesn’t even take into account new shoes, school uniforms, backpacks, lunch boxes, clothing, and other items we buy every year for back to school. You can probably think of a lot better way to spend that much money than buying pens and pencils, so we looked around for some ideas to help you save money on school supplies this year.

Take inventory. Before stepping out the door, step into your child’s closet and take inventory. What do you already have that will work for school this year? If your child has outgrown absolutely everything, you can still make their gently used clothing work for you by selling it online or at a local consignment shop, and put that money towards the back to school budget. Many consignment shops will pay you up front for your used clothing, so there’s no waiting.

Stack coupons. When shopping online use coupon sites like Retail Me Not in addition to store coupons to multiply your savings. Kohl’s will allow you to use more than one coupon per purchase, so you can use a store sale promo code, a free shipping coupon, and a coupon code from Retail Me Not to save big on your online order.

Shop ahead. Buying winter clothing in February and summer gear in September can mean a significant savings. Purchase clothing one season ahead, and you can be prepared when the weather changes, plus you’ll have something to put in those coat pockets besides gloves.

Get one penny supplies. Many big box stores offer products for one cent, hoping to entice buyers to do all of their school supply shopping at that store. These items are known as loss leaders. The store is willing to take a loss on one item if it brings buyers in to shop for more. However, if you stick to just buying the loss leaders, you can save a good deal of money. Different stores will advertise different back to school supplies as their loss leaders, so make the rounds armed with your list. While you’re at it, you can make note of which store has the best prices on the other items on your list of supplies, and once you’ve bought all the loss leaders for a penny, return to the store with the best prices to complete your shopping.
Take advantage of loyalty programs and rebates. Back to school is a great time to sign up for loyalty programs that offer rewards on purchases. This is also the time of year when many items have rebate offers attached that offer up to 100% of the purchase price after rebate. That’s basically free stuff, after the cost of postage.

Wait to buy. Take advantage of the month after school starts to save the most on items retailers want to clear out to make room for winter holiday stock. If you have a home office, now’s the time to stock up on notebooks, pens, planners, organizers, file folders, and many other essential office items. It’s always a good idea to pick up some extras of things like loose leaf paper, composition books, and things you know your child will probably run out of before the school year is over. Start them off with the minimum amount required, then go back to the store in a week or two and pick up extras at up to 90% off.

Price match. With more people turning to Amazon for their school supplies, more local retailers are offering to match their prices. If you find an item in a store and the same item is less on Amazon, show the price to the store clerk, and most will match the Amazon price in order to get the sale. Don’t stop with Amazon; if you find an advertised price that is lower at one store than another, the higher priced store will probably match the lower price to get your back to school budget money.

Buy generic. This is a great opportunity to teach your children that the value of an item is not necessarily tied to the name on the package. Glue sticks are glue sticks, no matter whose name is on the box. Crayons, pens, pencils, and highlighters don’t have to have a name brand to do the jobs they were designed to do. The same goes for folders, binders, and notebooks.

We hope these eight tips on how to save money on school supplies will help you spend less than you expect on supplies this year and keep those extra dollars for something else.