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8 Back-to-School Shopping Tricks to Save Moms and Dads Money

Lifestyle Personal Finance
A young couple and their child pick out school supplies while back-to-school shopping

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Back-to-school shopping can put a serious dent in your bank account, and rising prices aren’t exactly helping matters. Before you run to the store to start shopping, read these eight savings tricks to help you keep more of your hard-earned money while shopping for the school year.

1. Do a little back-to-school shopping at a time.

When planning to stock up on school supplies, resist the urge to make a single, hurried shopping trip. Retailers often change their promotions and discounts throughout the week, providing an opportunity for savvy shoppers to secure better deals on back-to-school items. By spacing out your visits and keeping an eye on the changing deals, you’re more likely to snag significant savings on all the necessary supplies. This strategic approach not only helps in cutting down expenses but also ensures you get the best value for every item on your school shopping list.

2. Take care of rebates right away.

Rebates are undeniably great — it’s reassuring to know that even more savings are coming your way as you leave the store. However, the key to taking full advantage of any back-to-school shopping rebates is to complete the paperwork and submit it immediately. Avoid putting it on your kitchen counter with the intention of doing it tomorrow, as these rebates often end up getting shuffled around and lost. Promptly handling your rebate paperwork will benefit your pocketbook and your future self.

3. Utilize price matching.

Many retail stores offer price matching, which means they’ll honor lower prices found at competing stores. If you’re a parent who worries about missing out on better prices, price matching can ease those concerns and save you time by not having to visit every store for back-to-school supplies. Simply do some quick online research before shopping to find better deals. If you’re already at the store, mobile coupon apps and real-time price comparisons through a simple online search can help you find the best deal.

4. Delay certain clothing purchases.

Sometimes the most advantageous deals on clothing items such as denim, boots, and light jackets are typically found in the fall–after the school shopping rush is over. Keep this in mind, as it may prove beneficial to wait to purchase certain clothing items for your child. Exercising patience this way can lead to significant savings. By waiting just a couple of months, you could find yourself securing new shirts and other apparel for your child at a much better price.

5. Stick to the teacher’s golden list.

If your school provides back-to-school shopping lists detailing specific items they recommend purchasing for your child, you’ve lucked out. Treat this list as your back-to-school shopping guide, and resist the temptation to impulsively buy extra items not listed. By adhering strictly to the specified list, you ensure that you don’t buy more than what’s necessary. If your budget permits, a small splurge on a few special items isn’t the end of the world, but ultimately, sticking to the list will aid in managing your expenses effectively, streamline your shopping experience, and ensure that your child has exactly what they need for a successful school year.

6. Look for coupons.

When it comes to cutting costs on purchases, one highly effective strategy is to utilize coupons. As the school year approaches, keep a keen eye on your mail for both manufacturer and retailer coupons related to office supplies. These can prove invaluable during the back-to-school shopping season. The trick to optimizing your savings lies in redeeming manufacturer coupons on items that are already on sale, thereby doubling up on your discounts. And don’t forget to explore the internet for digital coupons, as these can offer substantial savings with just a few clicks. 

7. Take advantage of state tax holidays.

Some states strategically offer tax holidays around the back-to-school shopping season. You can check this list of 2024 state sales tax holidays to see if your state offers such a thing, and what items are eligible. Common items include clothing, school supplies, and shoes, usually up to a certain price limit. If you can’t shop in person on your state’s tax holiday weekend, many states allow you to take advantage of the same tax savings when shopping online, as long as you purchase an eligible item. Just be sure you know your state’s rules — the list of state sales tax holidays we provided has a link to each state’s website with further information.

8. Buy more supplies for tax savings.

If your budget allows, think about buying extra items and giving them to nonprofit organizations dedicated to distributing resources to children who need them. A variety of institutions, including churches and not-for-profit programs within school districts, are continuously in need of extra supplies to support children in your local community. This act of kindness not only helps those in less fortunate circumstances but could also offer you some financial benefits. If you itemize your deductions, donations like these can be claimed as charitable deductions on your income tax return, potentially leading to tax savings. Only certain organizations are eligible for this deduction, so make sure you check if your preferred non-profit is listed in the IRS database.

This article is for informational purposes only and not legal or financial advice.

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