It’s the time of year that most parents simultaneously love and dread.
It’s the time of year that most parents simultaneously love and dread. Back to school for many parents means a frantic rush through busy stores looking for school supplies and trying to beat the crowds while hunting down bargains. Depending on your child’s grade and how many kids you have, expenses can quickly add up.
According to MoneyCrashers, parents can spend upwards of $696 per child during the back to school season with that number expected to rise. So how can you shop smart and relax a little more this season and in the future? Here are some key tips to help your wallet and your peace of mind.
Check Your Existing Inventory and Swap
Think of all of those lost pens and pencils around your home, or notebooks and scrap paper that have been shoved into drawers over the years. There are sure to be plenty of supplies that still have life left that can be reused for the season. If you have neighbours with kids, or friends with kids nearby, coordinate a school supply swap to see if there are any supplies your kids don’t have that they’d be interested in trading. This is one of the simplest ways to save money!
Start Buying in Advance
It might be a pain to think about in the ‘off’ season, but pre-planning is a great way to save. Start budgeting or buying school supply staples three to six months ahead of time and you’ll find that the prices are generally more affordable. Plus, you can avoid having to visit multiple stores if an item isn’t in stock during the prime back to school season.
While you await a supply list (if your child’s school provides one), you can always stock up on the essentials: pencils, paper, notebooks, backpacks, shoes, etc. Plan to shop on Sunday or Monday when supplies are fresh, or on tax-free days for added savings. If you don’t see something in the store, check for deals and coupons online. The added benefit of buying ahead means less of a huge hit on your wallet at once and better budgeting opportunities for the fall.
Browse the Dollar Stores
While you may not find high-end calculators and the name brands your child has been eyeing at the various dollar stores out there, you will find basic items for way less than you’d pay at brand name outlets. The key benefit here is that you can still get fun items like erasers, stickers, pens, and binders while saving serious cash.
Check Craft Stores or Consignment Shops
Some companies have seasonal deals for 40%-60% off items or buy-one-get-one-free coupons. These deals are usually available through the mail, online or by joining an email list. Sometimes you can use multiple coupons on the same order, which can add up to huge savings. Local consignment shops also have discounted supplies, clothing and footwear options that can help you save.
Extra tip: if you’re set on buying a few new outfits for your child, wait until later in September/October to shop at regular stores when the prices will have dropped.
Look for Coupons and Price Match
July and August are prime times to scrounge up coupons from newspapers, parenting and online deals websites, and in-stores. Manufacturers are eager for your business and will start to advertise more deals around this time, so keep an eye on the mail and sign up for email offers to collect those key coupons. Check for additional coupons that offer freebies, which can also help you save, especially as your child advances through the school year and needs extra supplies.
For online coupon enthusiasts, check out Money Saver! We regularly update the Free Coupons section of our website with new deals and offers, or you can look for specific items quickly and easily with our Search feature. Our print magazine also contains coupons to help you save.
If you regularly shop at a few different stores, remember to price match (the Amazon price match app can help with this while you’re in store). It may not seem like much, but a few extra coupons here and there can add up to huge savings overall.
Interested in free digital coupons to help you save? Get everything you need for back to school with help from MoneySaver.ca coupons. Utilize our services for all of your savings this season.