We’re talking a few weeks ahead, if possible. If you wait until the last minute, supplies might run out. You may have to spend time online searching and/or driving from store to store – and paying the premium both in terms of products and gas. If you spread out purchases a little at a time, you won’t feel the financial hit so severely. Dive in early and you’ll thank yourself when it’s all over.
Conduct a Supply Audit
Dig into those drawers, closets and storage bins for school supplies from last year. Chances are, you bought a set of, say, pencils and all are not used. When you’re done, put what you’ve found in a central location and make your shopping list. Be sure to keep this list handy (on your phone, or in your bag if you’ve handwritten it). Another way to keep track of what you already have is to snap a pic of it.
Swap With Friends
Do this before you spend any money. Organize a small gathering with other parents, trade your wares, figure out what you need, then get going.
Head to the Dollar Store
After you’ve audited and swapped, check out these bargain basement stores. Here, you’ll find big savings on basics like notebooks, pencils, plus hand sanitizer and facial tissues.
Scour Thrift Stores
While thrift stores might not have supplies in terms of schoolwork, they’ll definitely have back-to-school clothes you can buy for a song – aka pretty darn cheap. You might look for backpacks here, too, which are a must-have. Tip: Don’t let your kiddos wear their new duds immediately. Save them for the first day (and days after) so they’ll feel like they’re starting the new year with a 100 percent fresh start.
Shop on a Sales Tax Holiday
Lots of states have these and during this time (or day or weekend), you can buy computers, clothing and school supplies without paying sales tax. Here’s a state sales tax holiday list for you.
Follow Popular Stores on Social Media
Many companies send their followers coupon links and advance notice about juicy sales. Several to watch on Facebook and Twitter are Staples, Office Depot, Target, Best Buy, as well as Coupons.com and RetailMeNot.
Make One Trek Solo
While taking the kiddos along can be fun and a great bonding experience, chances are they’ll plop things in your cart you might not want – and run up the bill. By yourself, you can get in and out quickly and control the cost.
Going back to school can be a challenging transition, both for kids and parents. However, if you plan ahead and stay on track, you can give yourself an A+ for all you’ve accomplished.