Back to School Savings:
Six Ways to Save During Back-to-School Time

by Jamie Jefferson

Back-to-school expenses can be overwhelming. Here are six simple ways to save money while giving your children what they need to hit the books this year.

1. Take a specific list for school supplies to the discount store or office supplies store. Watch the Sunday circulars and plan to find all of these essential school supplies in a single trip - while they are on sale. Make sure to stick to the official supplies list provided by the school. Then shop online (or comparison shop offline) for other items you might need, such as clothes and shoes.

2. Don’t spend too much on back-to-school clothes before school begins. Every child looks forward to having something new for the first day of school. That doesn’t mean each child needs an entirely new wardrobe. With many schools starting in August, the weather is too hot for the fall and winter clothes that they’ll need for the duration of the school year. And if you shop too far in advance, your child could actually outgrow an outfit before it’s time to wear it. Purchase one new outfit (or new single clothing item) for that first day to heighten the excitement – and save the rest of the wardrobe budget for a few months from now. If your budget doesn’t allow for a new clothing item for each child, treat your kids to something smaller – but still exciting: a new pencil bag or a new package of pencils printed with their name, for example.

3. Establish a clothing budget for each child. This allows your child to be in control of their wardrobe (under your guidelines, of course), and it requires them to make wise spending decisions. Help your child to comparison shop once they decide what they like. You can find lots of coupons online this time of year for apparel and shoes. 

4. Shop the sales, offline as well as online. Many of the big online retailers, such as Overstock and Smartbargains – as well as Target and Walmart - feature savings this time of year on back-to-school items small appliances, even notebook computers and those specialized calculators that your older children may need. Here are the latest Back to School Coupons, special offers, and promotions from our favorite online retailers so you can save on school supplies, backpacks, clothes, shoes, and more. 

5. Let your child give their old stuff a new look. With a few paper bags, sheets of construction paper, glitter, pens, glue, and stickers, they can make fun, personalized folders, supply tins, lunchboxes, notebooks, and book covers.

6. Plan a simple reward for the first day. Treat your elementary school student to a special surprise at the end of the first day (or at the end of the first week for middle school and high school students.) Take your children out for pizza or an ice cream cone and ask them to tell you all about their classes, their new friends, and what they think they are going to enjoy most about the year to come.  They’ll cherish this simple tradition – and so will you.