Make use of tax-free days
16 different states offer tax-free “holidays” at the beginning of August. Make use of them! Check out a list of which states offer them when here.
Collect materials from around the house first
The first rule of thumb before making any purchases is checking whether you even need to make any. You’d be amazed by how many spare pencils, notebooks, markers, and erasers you can find around the house, presumably scattered everywhere by the kids over the course of last school year. Sure, it won’t be as fun for the kids to bring old markers to school from a variety of different brands, but you’ll be saving big time.
Buy quality for the things that matter
It’s okay to splurge a little on the things that matter. In fact, it pays off! All things said and done, it costs more to replace a cheap backpack every year than it does to buy an expensive quality one that lasts years.
Image credit: laffy4k, flickr
Buy store-brand, not name-brand
This rule of thumb applies to almost everything… for your day-to-day needs, generic products are almost always the same as name-brand products. In fact, sometimes they’re made by the same manufacturer alongside name-brand products, and the only difference between the two is what label gets slapped on the box post-production. Essentially, you’re paying a premium to have the Crayola name on an otherwise identical marker.
Buy in bulk to last the rest of the year, or split cost of super bulk with neighbors/friends
Do you find you end up buying more supplies a few months into the school year after your initial stock runs out? Save by purchasing bulk packages (which get cheaper the more you buy) for the entire year instead during the back-to-school sales. There’s no harm in buying too much, either; what doesn’t get used this year can be used next year. Still don’t feel like you can use it all? Buy in bulk and split the cost with friends or neighbors.
Spread out purchases across stores
There’s no need to do all of your shopping at one store. If Store X has pencils at a better price and Store Y has cheaper notebooks, then do your shopping at both!
Don’t be afraid to buy late
It’s no big deal if your kids learn they absolutely have to have a specific type of calculator several weeks into the school year. You’ll still find amazing sales after the back-to-school rush has ended. Stores will be offering even more sales several weeks after the start of school because they need to clear excess stock that didn’t sell before, which means more savings for you!
Only buy what you need—make a list and don’t deviate
Chances are, the extra stuff you decide you suddenly “need” when you’re at the store, you won’t actually use. All it does is tack on extra expenses. Keep it simple, plan ahead of time what you’ll buy, and don’t deviate from the plan, or you’ll end up spending more than what you planned to.
Shop without the kids
Even if you go in committed to the list you came up with beforehand, you’re probably not going to stick to it if you bring the kids along. Suddenly, you’re buying something extra—or buying something special at a higher price than you’d have paid otherwise—because your kid just had to have it. The expenses will rack up quickly, so just don’t do it.