School is starting really soon (or has already started!) and that means there are probably a number of different things you need to purchase — from school supplies to clothes for your kids for fall and winter to electronics and more.
Here are five simple tips to help you save big on those back to school expenses…
1. Create a Budget.
You knew I was going to say this first, didn’t you? But it’s imperative to start by knowing how much you have to spend.
Without a budget, you won’t have parameters for what you have to work with and there’s a good chance money will just slip through your fingers like sand.
I always recommend that you consider using a cash budget. Why? Because this gives you instant self-discipline: when the money’s gone, the money’s gone!
If you don’t really have any money to work with at all, is there something you could sell to drum up some extra cash? Could you cash in some of your points on Swagbucks for gift cards you could use toward school supplies? Could you sell last year’s wardrobe that your child outgrew to fund this year’s wardrobe?
Also, consider having a swap meet with your friends to swap school supplies and clothes. Bring what you don’t need/no longer use and swap it with others.
2. Identify Needs vs. Wants.
Once you’ve determined your budget, then you need to take a hard look at what you can realistically afford in that budget. If money is especially tight, focus on the most important items first.
If your child desperately needs new shoes because the only ones they have are two sizes too small, that’s a high priority. Start with what is a true need versus just a “would be nice to have” first.
This is a great conversation to have with your children to help them understand what a need is and what a want is. It’s not wrong to spend money on wants, but help your child learn how to prioritize needs first. This is a valuable lesson for them to understand and grasp at an early age and will benefit them all their life.
3. Compare Prices
Use an app like Flipp (it’s free to download!) to price compare all of the best deals at local stores in your area. Then, either hit the store with the most deals or, stop at Walmart and price-match all the best deals at your local stores.
To do this, just check the ads, make a list of local prices, take these to Walmart, and tell your cashier what local prices you’re price-matching on the items you’re purchasing. Walmart’s corporate coupon policy says you don’t need an ad in order to price-match, however, I usually bring the ads with me in case there’s any issue or confusion about what the price is. Flipp makes it really easy to price-match at Walmart because you can have all of the ads right at your fingertips!
4. Buy Used.
Thrift stores, yard sales, consignment sales, and online sites such as ThredUp can be a treasure trove of bargains on back to school clothes for kids. You have to dig, but if you are patient, you can find incredible deals.
One of my favorite ways to find good deals at thrift stores is to go on the dollar days. Not all thrift stores have them, but it’s definitely worth checking into to see if your local thrift stores offer fill a bag for $5 or $1 days. Also, sign up for your thrift store’s email list to be notified of when they are having special offers and sales.
We’ve gotten amazing deals at consignment sales over the years, too. If you have extra time and energy, you can volunteer or sell at a consignment sale and you’ll usually be able to get first dibs on the deals — and possibly better pricing, too.
I’d highly recommend reading this article on how to stockpile clothes by shopping at yard sales. If you want to be even more strategic, check out this article on How to Shop Yard Sales for Free.
For more suggestions on how to maximize your consignment sale shopping experience, check out this article on Saving and Making Money With Consignment Sales and this article on How Selling on Consignment Works For Me.
5. Buy Extras.
When looking at the back-to-school sales, don’t just buy what’s on the required list from your local school. Buy extras of things such as glue, crayons, paper, notebooks, markers and other items you use on a regular basis around your home.
These sales are a great opportunity to stock up on office and craft supplies we use on a regular basis—all at the cheapest prices you’ll be able to get all year.
In addition, because many teachers have to pay for some of their classroom supplies out of pocket, how about buying extras of the great deals and donating them to your children’s’ classroom or purchasing them for a local family who is struggling financially?
How do YOU save on back to school supplies?
This post is underwritten by Flipp — an app that brings all of the weekly sales fliers from your local stores to the digital age in a dynamic and personalized way, and aggregates all your favorite circulars onto one digital device for access anywhere, anytime.
With Flipp, busy parents have seamless access to their favorite weekly ad fliers from their favorite retailers – and all the savings of each weekly circular right in their fingertips – without lugging around paper or cutting coupons!
What sets Flipp apart from other circular apps is that users can search by retailer (local groceries, larger big-box stores), or search for specific items (backpacks, notebooks, clothes, cereal), or even search for a specific savings amount, and they can create shopping lists to start the shopping experience beforehand or in the store right on their digital device.
With Flipp’s new shopping list feature, shoppers can quickly find the best deals for their weekly essentials. Once they’re in the store, users can easily check off items from their list – built right into the app! – to ensure they pick up everything they need (and also stick to their list!).
Download Flipp on iTunes or Google Play.