Article | 2:45 min read

Save Money on Back-to-School Shopping

Budget and Save

As summer begins to wind down, children, teens, and parents across the country will start thinking about the beginning of the school year.

Back-to-school (BTS) shopping is an annual tradition in many American households as parents attempt to gather all the supplies their children will need for a school year filled with new subjects and teachers, and students will be focused on picking out new clothes they can show off come September.

According to the National Retail Federation, consumers plan to spend $27.3 billion on BTS shopping this year, as well as $48.5 billion on back-to-college shopping [1]. The BTS season isn't always kind on parents' wallets, but there are some smart ways you can score some savings on school shopping.

Stick to the list

Any time you are headed out to the store, whether it be the grocery store, hardware store, or department store, it's important to make a list first. Without a defined plan to keep you, and any children or teens you might have in tow, on track, it can be easy to fill your cart with impulse buys.

"Without a list, it can be easy to fill your cart with impulse buys."

Your children's school will likely send all parents a list of required school gear they must have for the year, such as binders, calculators or protractors. Bring this with you to stay on task.

Also, before you head to the store, take an afternoon to do inventory on your children's clothes. If they are in elementary or middle school, they likely grew over the summer, and last year's fall and winter clothes may not fit well anymore. Make a list of clothing essentials they'll need to flesh out their wardrobe this year.

Host a swap

Though fashion might change from school year to school year, essentials never do. Chances are, there are families in your neighborhood or town that have many of the items your kids will need for school. Get in touch with families in your area to see if anyone would be interested in trading items or having a community garage sale, suggested [2].

Choose a Saturday in early August to host it. You'll likely find some items your kids need, and other parents will benefit as well. Plus, it'll save everyone money on BTS shopping - your neighbors will thank you for that. If you choose to host it as a large garage sale rather than a swap, consider making a group donation to the school or other community organization.

Yard Sale Sign Stuck to a Tree A yard sale or community swap can help parents save money on back-to-school items.

Choose your store carefully

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, 93 percent of shoppers plan to buy their BTS needs at a shopping center or mall. However, carefully planning out where to do your shopping might save some money. pointed out that grocery stores often have discounts on some school supplies like pencils and notebooks around this time of year. Choosing a second-hand or discount store might also be beneficial. According to the NRF, 43.7 percent of BTS shoppers plan to check out a discount store to find some school supplies.


[1]. Back-to-School Headquarters

[2].10 Back-To-School Shopping Tips that Save Money

[3]. Back-to-School Shopping Makes the Grade—78% of Consumers Plan to Spend More, ICSC Survey Finds


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