Along with new wardrobes, sports uniforms and stationery, back to school supplies can really pack a financial punch. Starting early will give you enough time to find coupons for your favorite products, shop around for all your essentials and avail yourself of deals that could save you fistfuls of money.
Make a list
Start with the school’s recommended list of stationery and add other essentials you and your student deem necessary for the coming academic year. Give the house a thorough once-over to find just how many of these items you already have. Check draws and cupboards for markers, pencils, pens and other stationery items you may have lying around. This list is sacred; do not be tempted to deviate from it when you are in the store unless you discover an item that you have forgotten.
Shop around for deals
Go online to compare item prices in different shops in your neighborhood. Of course you don’t want to go to each individual store to buy a couple of items because the savings can be negated by traveling costs. Shopping online for items will alert you to any special deals or sales that stores are having and, if you know what to get from each store, you can pop in over the next couple of weeks if you happen to be driving by or are in the area. If you find great deals online with free shipping or shipping that costs less than your shopping travel expenses, then order them online—this will save you money and time!
Coupons are king
If you are not using coupons, then now is the time to start. You can get amazing deals on everything from clothing to pencils if you download and print coupons that you find online. It only takes a minute and can save you 30-50% of your back-to-school spending. Work with other parents so that ‘buy one get one free’ deals can be shared between families. Some of the most popular couponing sites are:
Avoid buying Disney-themed stationery or celebrity-endorsed items and get some craft supplies from the dollar store instead. Get your students to design their own covers for files, pencil cases and books. That way they will have created unique one-of-a-kind items that look great but cost less.
Get together with other parents to arrange a clothing swap. This is a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way to add to your wardrobe. Every student has clothing that they no longer use which is still in excellent condition. Parents and students can meet to exchange items of clothing and share their wardrobes. Unwanted items can then be donated to a charity. You can get more details on how to run a successful clothing swap here.
This year getting ready for the new academic year need not cost you an arm and a leg. After the back-to-school rush has passed, many stores have sales on their back-to-school items that didn’t sell. The frugal parent can shop then for the future and stock up on supplies that they will need next year.