Save Money and Time on Back-to-School Shopping

Back-to-school shopping can be fun for kids but a run for parents. Here are some simple ways to save time, ease stress and reduce the dent in your bank account.

Shop at Home First

The list of school supplies is often long; so before you head out shopping, comb through your child’s leftovers from last year to see if there’s anything that can be reused. Items like calculators, pencil sharpeners, unsharpened pencils, pens and markers may be perfectly fine to use again. Well-made backpacks and lunchboxes probably just need a thorough washing to look as good as new. Investing in a high-quality backpack with a warranty will save money in the long run. Cheap backpacks and lunchboxes break, and the cost of replacing them adds up.

Double Up on Savings

If you want to save money, don’t wait until August to do all of your shopping. Plan ahead to purchase items from your list as they go on sale. Kids always need paper, pencils and art supplies; so check clearance sales year-round for these items at discount stores or other retailers and keep them in a designated school cabinet. As early as July 4, retailers start to offer sales on back-to-school supplies. Double up on savings by combining coupons during store sales.

Back-to-School Threads

Most kids want a first-day-of-school outfit they feel good about, and shopping for those new clothes may be a family tradition you don’t want to skip. But you can wait to purchase the rest of their school wardrobe once stores mark down fall apparel when winter clothes arrive. Save even more by shopping for gently used brand-name clothing on sites like or check out local thrift shops for “new-to-you” school outfits.

Skip the Sales Tax

A number of states offer tax-free shopping days in late July and early August to help lower the cost of back-to-school purchases. Eligible items include clothing, school supplies, art supplies, book bags, textbooks and even computers. Online shoppers can also benefit. Amazon turns off sales tax for items coded as school supplies for each participating state. For big-ticket items like computers and tablets, check out refurbished options found at box retailers, which can save up to 40 percent off retail prices and typically come with a warranty.

A little planning for your back-to-school shopping will save you money and time; so say goodbye to overwhelm and send your kids back to school this year with ease.

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