Does the thought of back to school thrill you? After all, it means that soon the house will be quiet again as opposed to being filled with children screaming how bored they are! Or, do you dread back to school shopping, simply because it means you have to spend money on all of those back to school supplies? Whichever side you fall on, you know that back to school shopping is unavoidable, so why not do everything you can to try and save money?
Luckily there are many tips and tricks you can use when it comes to your back to school shopping that will save you some serious cash. Below are seven ways for saving on back to school shopping while still snagging all of the supplies you need:
1. Utilize coupons, of course!
Each summer, coupons for back to school supplies are typically available. Companies like Post-It and Bic usually offer manufacturer’s coupons. Crayola tends to offer coupons once the fall hits as well, so be sure to check your Sunday newspapers as manufacturer’s release new coupons.
If you’re an avid couponer with a large stockpile, back to school season is a great time to consider donating excess school supplies from your stockpile to a local school — every bit helps!
2. Shop smart at drug stores, grocery stores, and dollar stores
While you won’t find a scientific calculator at your local dollar store, you’ll find basics such as pencils, pencil boxes, and folders. While you don’t want to skimp on the quality when it comes to scissors, calculators, or other supplies that endure daily wear and tear, for items such as pencils and erasers a dollar store is ideal for stocking up.
While dollar stores offer school supplies, sometimes combining a grocery or drug store sale with a manufacturer’s coupon may yield an even lower price. Always check the Ultimate Coupon Club Coupon Database throughout the summer for school supply coupons to combine with a store sale.
3. Buy in bulk
You may notice that things such as glue sticks, erasers, and packs of paper are sold in bulk. You might want to consider purchasing in bulk if the price is right. This way, you’re going to have additional supplies on hand when they tend to run out around January. If a bottle of glue is $1.50, but you can buy a four-bottle pack for $4.00, it may be more cost-effective to buy in bulk.
4. Price match
Local retailers go crazy in the fall with back to school sales. Many will offer items for just pennies to get customers in the door. You can easily find yourself driving from store to store to get pencils for a dime or paper for a quarter. Instead, save your sale ads and price match. First, find the store with the best deals. Patronize that store, but price match any other deals you might find in sale ads. This saves you time and gas!
5. Earn gift cards to pay for purchases
Are you a Swagbucks member? With Swagbucks you can shop online and take surveys in order to earn points. Your points can then be redeemed for gift cards to retailers such as Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy, Target, and more. All of these retailers are great for back to school supplies, clothing, and electronics. Start now and get earning!
6. Use smart phone apps and save
You need to buy back to school supplies, why not get rewarded as you do? Use money saving smartphone apps like ShopKick, Plink, and SavingStar offer savings right at your fingertips. Compare prices, get points you can redeem for cash and gift cards, or find online coupons with these easy to use apps. If you’re shopping without a smartphone app, you’re not saving all the cash you can!
7. Shop alone
Have you ever tried grocery shopping with kids? It never fails that when you do, more ends up in the cart than you planned. Same for back to school shopping. Instead, shop alone if you can. You can choose a 25 cent flower themed folder over the $3.99 designer/licensed folder. You can avoid fancy items you don’t need such as fun markers, highlighters, stickers, and other “supplies” hidden in the school supplies that end up costing you big bucks. If you want your children to feel like they have input, allow them to choose one item such as a lunch box.
Hopefully, these tips help get your back to school shopping rolling. Back to school shopping can be crazy enough, don’t let the stress of it con you into spending more than you need. Instead, give a few of these tips a try and keep a little extra cash in your pockets this year! Good luck!
Ryan Preston is the founder of Ultimate Coupon Club, a frugal living blog helping others learn how to live well and save more — all while having fun! He is also a Savings.com DealPro and teaches Savings Nation workshops in New Jersey that help people learn how to save up to 50% off their grocery bills.