Back-to-School Shopping on a Budget
Guest blog by Alicia Werle
Yes, Parents, it’s that time of year again. Time to scratch off the supplies checklist, buy a new book bag and realize that your child has yet again grown up another size in clothing. You guessed it…..its back to school season. So many parents this time of year dread back to school because it means spending hundreds and even thousands of dollars on schools supplies, clothing and other miscellaneous items. Well I have great news that you are going to want to take advantage of.
With a little planning and preparation you can save hundreds of dollars this year by using these 4 simple steps.
Step One: Sign up for a Couponing & Money Saving Blog/Website
I cannot tell you how important this one is. There are websites out there that are dedicated to doing all of the hard work for you. They will tell you what deals are out there for the back to school season and where to find all of the items that you need at 50-75% off retail or more every day. They take all of the work out of it and all you have to do is read the sales that they post each day. They will tell you exactly what items are going on sale for each upcoming sales ad before it even happens so you can be prepared and make your shopping lists out early. They will also give you a list of prices for what you should spend and not spend over on every item you are looking for that your child will need.
I personally use a few sites myself and swear by them. I have 5 bins of schools supplies for my 4 year old and 4 month old retailing for over $1,500 that I might have spent $100 on. All I had to do was take a few minutes each day to read what the best sales were at each store. Make sure you sign up for “Passion for Savings“, “Yes We Coupon” and “Krazy Coupon Lady” to receive their daily emails and they will help you save a fortune this year on all of your back to school needs.
Step Two: Take advantage of all Store Savings Programs
When I ask most people where they do their back to school shopping for school supplies, most people have the same reply….Walmart. You might be surprised to know that 90% of the school supplies that I have purchased over the last 2 to 3 years have come from other stores and not Walmart.
Before I started this couponing lifestyle I was a frequent shopper at Walmart but not as much anymore. I have found that I can get most items (regardless of what they are) cheaper at other stores.
For example, I would have never thought of shopping at Rite Aid for simple school supplies like folders, binders, pens, highlighters, etc but surprisingly I have saved a ton of money by shopping there. One shopping trip for schools supplies the items in my cart retailed for $72 and I only spent $3.50.
To that note I would have also never thought of shopping at stores like Office Max or Staples for Schools supplies because they are typically the most expensive in theory. However, these stores offer a ton of items that are 75% off or more and are offering items for only 1 penny during the back to school shopping season. Not to mention that fact that I am a huge fan of Staple for their .01 ream of paper deals.
Make sure that you register for store rewards programs like CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Staples and Office Max so that you can get all of the best prices for school supplies for your child.
Step 3: Stock up in Advance
Now this one might seem crazy to most people but I assure you it works. The back to school sales start right after the 4th of July holiday in most stores and run through the first week of September. That is the only time that you should ever shop for schools supplies otherwise you will be paying way more than you should. I have made a practice of buying things in advance for a few years out. You may not know exactly what you child will need for each school year but basic essentials like pencils, pens, paper, notebooks, book bags and other items will always be on the list.
Step Four: Don’t Forget about Your Coupons
You might not be aware of this but there are always coupons for school supplies both online and in your local newspaper. Make sure that you utilize every saving technique that you can as every penny helps. You can print coupons from your computer from coupons.com as well as subscribe to your local newspaper on Sunday as a great way to get savings on already discounted back to school items.
Make sure you follow these 4 simple steps this year and make a positive impact in your budget by spending pennies instead of hundreds of dollars this year. It just takes a little planning and preparation and you can conquer the dreaded back-to-school season with ease.
Alicia Werle is the owner of Breaking Free Financial Seminars. She teaches monthly seminars on how to actively become debt free through couponing. She is the mother of two young children.