Financial Education Blog

Save on Back-to-School Shopping with these Tips

No matter how you spin it, back-to-school shopping can be dreadful. Not only does it signal the end of summer, but the cost of all those notebooks, pens and binders can really add up. Last year, families with children in grades K-12 spent an average of $685 on back-to-school shopping. A 2018 National Retail Federation survey revealed that 70% of the responding parents found back-to-school shopping stressful.

Parents, the start of a new school year doesn’t have to affect your blood pressure or your wallet. Here are some tips to make back-to-school shopping a breeze.

Make a List (and Check your House Twice)
Make a list of everything you’ll need for your kids to go back to school. Creating a list prevents you from buying items that your kids don’t need or may already have. Once you have your list, take the time to create a budget. Back-to-school shopping doesn’t have to leave you in debt.

Before you start your shopping, check your home for any school supplies that may be lying around. Finding school supplies on your list will help you save money by eliminating the need to buy all new products.
Be sure to put those newly discovered folders and pencils in a centralized place so you don’t forget about them. This will allow you to keep track of what you have and prevent you from spending extra cash at the store.

Visit the Dollar Store
Actually, any thrift or discount store will do. You don’t have to buy everything there, but starting at stores like the Dollar Store will help you stretch your money further. Start with your basic supplies and then move onto major retail stores to find the rest!

Start Early
It’s never too early to start buying school supplies. Breaking your back-to-school shopping up over the course of several months or weeks lessens the initial blow. Plus, it gives you a jump on deals and time to compare offers. If you can, start purchasing supplies for next year and stockpile them away. At the very least, you’ll have back-ups at home if your kids need to restock.

Shop on Tax Holidays
Ohio provides a permanent sale tax holiday on the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday of August each year. For 2019, the sales tax holiday starts Friday, Aug. 2 and ends Sunday, Aug 4. During the holiday, the following items are exempt from sales and use tax:
  • Clothing priced at $75 per item or less;
  • School supplies priced at $20 per item or less; and
  • School instructional material priced at $20 per item or less.
 Take advantage of this year’s sales tax holiday to purchase some of your more expensive items.
 
Visit Money Saving Apps and Websites
Don’t forget to utilize store-specific apps to save. Here are just a few sites and apps to choose from:
  • ShopSavvy
  • Flipp
  • Hollar.com
  • Groupon
  • Amazon
Don’t Forget Coupons!
Coupons and promotional codes can save you tons of money on the supplies you need. And don’t forget, the Dollar Store accepts manufacture’s coupons!

Keep your Kids at Home
It’s hard to say no to an overpriced or unnecessary item when your kids are pleading in the aisle for the latest trend. According to a 2018 Coinstar back-to-school survey, 49% of the respondents who shopped with their children overspent.  If you can, leave your kids at home and focus on your list.