Back-to-School Shopping Hacks: 7 Ways to Save

Little boy holding dinosaur toy in classroom in front of chalkboard.

Back-to-school shopping doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive. Here are seven tips for saving this year.

  1. Take inventory. Don’t go shopping without first taking stock of what you already have. Keep a running list so you know exactly what you need before you spend any money on new supplies or clothing.
  2. Shop tax-free. Sales tax in West Virginia is suspended from August 5-8, and if you use those days to shop for big-ticket items, like a new laptop or pair of school shoes, the savings can really add up.
  3. Shop with a list. As you shop for school supplies and clothes, remember that your child’s school or teacher may have sent home a list of required items. But that doesn’t mean you should simply buy everything on the list. It’s best to start out with a clear goal of what you plan to buy. This way, you’ll be less likely to overspend and come home with bags of stuff you don’t really need, along with lots of buyer’s remorse.
  4. Divide and conquer. The circulars are packed with specials on school supplies all summer long. The problem is that, while one store is offering a crazy-low deal on crayons this week, another is running a super sale on pencils – and the stores are across town from each other. To save money and keep your sanity, team up with another school parent to divide the school supply list between you. Then, pool your resources to cover the costs and save a bundle.
  5. Let your kids choose some items on their own. Help your kids learn about budgeting by letting them shop for one or more of the costlier items on their own. Set a reasonable budget, but let your child choose and pay for the item. If you want to encourage thriftiness, you can offer to let your child keep the change.
  6. Save some stuff for later. Yes, your child is starting school soon. But don’t run out and buy a complete autumn wardrobe before Labor Day. Waiting for the mid-season sales will save you a lot of money. It will also help you make better money choices if you don’t have to worry about preparing for the big first day.
  7. Scan receipts to get cash back. Earn money back on your purchases by using cash-back apps such as Coupons.com, Dosh and Ibotta. It’s like getting paid to shop!

It’s back-to-school shopping season, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend yourself broke! Take advantage of these hacks and get your shopping done without breaking the bank.