In 2011, back-to-school spending totaled $68.8 billion and is predicted by the National Retail Federation to reach almost $84 billion this fall. Though a little outlay of cash will be unavoidable to be ready for classes, you can minimize your costs with a variety of simple tips.
1. Reuse From Last Year and only buy school supplies that you have to replace. Crayons, pens and pencils have more than a year of lifespan.
2. Watch Sales Carefully to see when items are the least expensive. Office supply and clothing stores offer complex and changing sales during this season.
3. Use That Teacher Discount if you are, or know, a teacher. The big-box office supply stores cut as much as 20 percent off.
4. Find Discount Gift Cards by shopping online. Some resources will get you as much as 10% off the face value.
5. Pool Resources with other parents, then buy bulk at your local warehouse store. A large enough group could order direct from wholesalers.
6. Pack a Lunch for your children instead of buying cafeteria food. It costs less and is much healthier for them.
7. Take That List With a Grain of Salt and buy only basic supplies like paper and pens. Wait until specialty items are actually being used, as some teachers never get around to it.
8. Look Into Tax Holidays. In some states, such as Texas and Florida, sales tax is suspended on school supplies and inexpensive clothing during this season.
9. Research Apps that can accomplish the same tasks as expensive stand-alone electronics, like calculators.
10. Shop With a Precise List made by taking inventory at home. Shopping without a list almost always means buying too much.
11. Buy Floor/Demo Models of expensive electronics. This could net you a discount of up to 25 percent.
12. Use Rewards Cards at the stores you frequent. This will be a major set of purchases, and you should get whatever you can from them.
13. Use Goodwill or Salvation Army to get quality goods for pennies on the dollar. Children will outgrow most clothes before the value of new expires.
14. Try Factory Outlets if your tweens and teens are opposed to buying used. These shops sell at a steep discount, for clothes not noticeably different from retail.
15. Check Out Dollar Stores for uber-cheap deals on basic supplies, and even extras like a rack or mirror for the locker door.
16. Enlist Your Kid’s Help by setting a budget at 10 percent under what you think you’d spend, then letting them keep anything below that limit. Everybody wins.
17. Organize a Gear Swap with other parents who have children of different ages. Trade around for some “new to you” clothes and supplies for everybody.
18. Buy Bright Colors for backpacks, pencil cases and other gear. This will cut down on lost items you have to replace.
19. Rent Textbooks or buy used, for college students. This alone can cut more than $100 off each term’s costs.
20. Make Your Own Book Covers from gift wrap, old maps or last year’s wall calendar instead of buying ready-made covers each year.
What’s another money saving tip we can add to the list?
Photo Credit: woodleywonderworks