A Master Class in Back-to-School Shopping

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How to Budget and Save Money

While the new school season is likely to look a lot different for many students, there will still be a need for back-to-school shopping for supplies and clothing. Parents are expected to focus on school supplies, electronics and clothing this year, focusing on the basics that work at home and in the classroom. Get back-to-school shopping tips to make sure you spend—and not over-spend—your budget wisely for the most back-to-school savings:

Begin with the Back-to-School Basics

Start your back-to-school shopping by prioritizing the basics that your children will need, whether for the classroom, at school or at home. Stock up on school supplies first and then work your way up from the must-have items to the nice-to-have items.

Shop at Home or Swap with Friends and Neighbors

Before you go online or head out to the stores, check your closets and other storage areas for any new or lightly used items from last year. For example, you might be able to combine two incomplete boxes of crayons to build a full box. Or, consider arranging a supply-swap with neighbors or joining with neighbors to qualify for bulk-buying discounts. Other options for back-to-school savings include websites for gently used clothing and accessories like ThredUp and Poshmark, as well as Facebook swap and sell groups.

Explore Non-traditional Stores

While big-box retailers and department stores are often first on a shopper’s list, other retailers might offer products and deals that are just as good and convenient. For example, many grocery stores bring in back-to-school shopping supplies, and craft stores offer art supplies year-round that are perfect for the classroom.

Join Loyalty Programs

Retailer loyalty programs offer other perks in addition to the potential to rack up rewards for future purchases. For example, some retailers provide advance notice of sales, extra discounts or special shopping hours. And best of all, there is no cost to join.

Make Online Back-to-School Shopping Work for You

Shopping online is convenient but it’s not always budget-friendly. However, technology tricks can save you a few dollars. Use shopping and comparison apps to make sure you get the best price, and download a barcode scanning app to compare prices before you shop in-store. In addition, some retailers send text alerts with alerts for special deals and offers. Be aware, however, that your wireless plan might charge for messaging. Regardless of what is on your list, the key to earning an “A” in your back-to-school shopping is to start with a plan. As your former high-school teachers used to say, “If you start with a plan, you’ll plan to succeed.”

 

Looking for more tips on how to budget and save money? Check out more of Comenity's financial education resources.