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How To Save Money on Back To School Shopping

In just four short weeks, the kiddos will be going back to school.

As summer comes to an end, I’m forced to look over my kiddos back to school supply list.

My heart starts beating a little faster at the number of items I needed to buy.

And that isn’t surprising since the average American family will spend $600 on back-to-school shopping. And while it seems like every store has awesome sales and bargains, it is easy go over budget if you don’t plan accordingly.

So here are my best saving tips to help you stay in budget and not break the bank.

How To Save Money on Back To School Shopping

Tip #1: Recycle

I was shocked to find many of the items on my kid’s school supply list were already in the house. Especially things like scissors, pencil boxes, sharpeners, Kleenex, Ziplocs, etc. Also, I try to make backpacks and lunchboxes go for at least two or three years before replacing. Remember, there is no shame in sending a 3/4 full bottle of Elmer’s Glue.

Tip #2: Shop Tax Free

Missouri’s Tax Free Weekend is August 3 -5, 2012 and applies to the following items:

As a general rule, I only shop for items during the tax free weekend that are bargains or a big ticket item. I never pay full-price because I’m getting an eight-percent tax break.

Tip #3: Price Match

Walmart, Staples, Office Depot and Office Max all price match. I spend a little time on the weekend with the circulars and make a list of the “best bargains”. Then I go to one store with my circulars and list in hand. And it is even easier because I use the Back To School Deals that I publish for the week on Monday.

Tip #4: Don’t Buy New Clothes Yet

First, its hot for the first couple of months of school.

Second, fashion is fickle – especially in the tween set. Wait to spend money on fall/winter clothes until the second month of school. Kids will have a better idea of the “in” styles and prices are lower because stores are moving inventory in anticipation for the holiday season.

Tip #5: Wait…If You Can

Two to three weeks after school starts, many stores will slash their prices on backpacks, lunchboxes, spiral notebooks, folders, etc. If the item isn’t needed during the first week of school, then wait and buy when it goes on clearance.

Tip #6: Embrace The Splurge

Starting a new school year is exciting. New teachers, new classmates, new schedule, and new subjects.

Don’t squelsh the excitement by making every item “recycled” from home. I talk to my kiddos each year about an item they would love to have for school and get it for them. This year both kids want new backpacks. And they will get new back packs, but they won’t get new lunchboxes. It’s a compromise, but it is still special.

Tip #7: Remember There is More Than School Supplies

Remember, there are other expenses besides school supplies and clothes. Make sure to budget in school lunches, book fees, PTA fees, and organization fees in the first month of school.

Tip #8: Make a Final Budget and Stick To It

I find making a budget helps keep me (and my kiddos) spending in check. Using a school supply list and their desired “want” list helps to make a budget for each child. As part of the budgeting process, the kiddos get to make decisions about which items to splurge and which items to save on.

Tip #9: If the Budget is Too Big – Buy In Stages

There are occasions that after putting pen to paper, recycling as many items as possible, and shopping the sales and price matching, there is not enough to cover all the expenses.

When I find myself in this situation, I make a priority list. Some things may have to wait until next month – and that is okay. Have a discussion with the teacher and let them know the situation. Most likely the kiddos don’t need four notebooks at the start of the school, one may be sufficient.

What about you? What are some cost-cutting things you do to save money during back-t0-school? Leave a comment – because someone may have a great idea for you.