Back-to-School Shopping: 10 Frugal Ways to Save

Back-to-School Shopping: 10 Frugal Ways to Save
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Back-to-school shopping can be an exciting yet daunting time for many families. The thrill of getting your kids new school supplies, fresh outfits, and and other necessities for the academic year often comes with a hefty price tag.

With some planning and savvy shopping strategies, you can get everything your children need for school or college without straining your budget.

Here are ten frugal ways to help you save as you gear up for the upcoming school year:

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a school backpack with supplies with the title "10 Ways to Save: Back to School Shopping".

1) Set a Budget

Setting a budget is the cornerstone of frugal back-to-school shopping, and understanding your budget constraints ahead of time is vital.

A realistic budget helps prioritize spending on essential items while avoiding impulse buys that can quickly add up.

calculator, charts and graphs page, notebooks with one saying "budget" - frugal ways to save on back to school shopping

2) Take Inventory of What You Already Have

Before heading out to the stores, take some time to go through last year’s supplies and clothes.

Check for any notebooks, binders, or writing utensils that still have life in them. You might be surprised at how many items can be reused.

open clothes drawers - back to school shopping

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    3) Create a Shopping List

    Creating a comprehensive shopping list is a crucial step in effective back-to-school shopping.

    Start by listing every item your child will need for every class, from notebooks, paper, and pencils to specific clothing articles, accessories, backpacks, and lunch boxes.

    Focusing on necessities first will ensure your child is well-prepared for the school year while keeping your spending in check.

    a list that says, "pencils, paper, folder" - back-to-school shopping

    4) Look for Sales and Discounts

    Timing your shopping to coincide with back-to-school sales can significantly reduce your expenses.

    Walmart is one retailer that often offers substantial discounts on school supplies and clothing during July and August.

    Dollar Tree and Target also have budget-friendly options, and checking their weekly ads can alert you to special deals.

    Watch advertisements and set reminders for significant sales events to maximize your savings.

    a boy and girl are looking at school supplies - back to school shopping

    5) Shop Secondhand

    Opting for gently used clothes and supplies instead of brand-new items can be a smart way to reduce school expenses.

    Not only can this approach lead to significant savings, but it also supports sustainable consumption by reducing waste.

    Thrift shops and consignment stores are excellent places to find affordable, high-quality secondhand items.

    EBay and Poshmark are great online resources for finding deals on used back-to-school items.

    someone one is looking at clothes in a clothes rack - back-to-school shopping

    6) Buy in Bulk

    Buying in bulk can effectively reduce costs on frequently used items, particularly for school supplies and other essentials that your child will use throughout the year.

    When purchasing items like folders, pens, pencils, and snack foods in larger quantities, the cost per unit is often significantly lower than buying smaller packages.

    Many warehouse clubs and bulk retailers offer competitive prices on bulk items, which can significantly reduce your overall spending.

    a bunch of pencils - back-to-school shopping on a budget

    7) Utilize Store Loyalty Programs

    Joining store loyalty programs can be a savvy strategy for maximizing savings through points and rewards.

    Many retailers offer loyalty programs that offer members exclusive discounts, personalized coupons, and purchase points.

    Accumulated points can often be redeemed for cash back, gift cards, or even free items, directly contributing to your savings.

    a woman is picking out school supplies - back-to-school shopping

    8) Online Shopping Strategies

    Comparison shopping online is an effective method to ensure you get the best value for your purchases.

    By using price comparison websites and tools, such as Buy Via, you can compare prices for the same product across various retailers to secure the best deal.

    Many websites also offer features like price history tracking, allowing you to see if the present price is a good deal based on past data.

    Furthermore, browser extensions and apps can notify you of price drops or better prices elsewhere while you shop.

    a woman is on her cell phone - back-to-school shopping

    9) Stick to the List

    One of the biggest mistakes parents make when school shopping is to deviate from their list. Impulse purchases can rapidly accumulate and throw your budget off track, especially if you’re prone to making emotional or unnecessary purchases.

    To avoid overspending, create a detailed list before heading out to the store and stick to it. A list will keep you on track financially and help you stay organized and focused while shopping.

    a woman has a notebook and is standing by school supplies - back-to-school shopping

    10) Plan for Future Needs

    While it’s essential to stick to your list when shopping, it’s also important to plan for future needs.

    Planning for the future is considering items you may need in the coming weeks or months and adding them to your list.

    By anticipating what you will need, you can avoid last-minute panic purchases at a higher cost.

    For example, if you know your child will need new school supplies next semester, start looking for deals and sales beforehand.

    a woman is picking out school supplies - back-to-school shopping

    Frugal Back-to-School Shopping Will Save You Money

    Implementing a few strategic tips can help you save money, stay organized, and ensure your child is well-prepared for the new school year.

    Begin early, set a budget and adhere to it, utilize price comparison tools, and plan for future necessities.

    With my Frugal back-to-school shopping tips, you can save money and start the school year on the right financial foot.

    If you liked this post, please share it on Pinterest!

    two children sitting at a desk writing with the title, "10 Ways to Save: Back-to-School Shopping."


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        1. These tips are so helpful! Back-to-school shopping can get expensive, so it’s great to have some frugal ways to save money. I’ll definitely be using these strategies to stretch my budget and make the most of my back-to-school shopping. Thanks for sharing these practical and money-saving tips!

        2. Lists are my bread and butter when I’m doing my back to school shopping. So are huge sales like Amazon Prime Day. I’ve gotten the bulk of my kids’ school supplies on that day for the past three years.

          1. I haven’t thought of Amazon Prime Days, Beth. I’ll have to check that out because Prime Days are coming soon. I get a lot of my school supplies from Walmart.

        3. Back to school shopping is one of those things I leave until the last minute and end up spending a fortune. Thanks for the reminders on how to plan and how to save!

        4. Great tips for back-to-school shopping! I love the practical advice on saving money while getting everything we need. Your suggestions are super helpful and timely. Thanks for sharing these frugal ideas!

        5. These practical and frugal tips for back-to-school shopping are perfect for saving money and planning efficiently, ensuring you get everything you need without breaking the bank.

        6. Ah yes, lists do make shopping so much easier and laser-focused. Without it, my schooling budgets would always have been through the roof.

        7. These are some great tips and such a great reminder for those parents who still have school age children. Everything is so high now everyone is looking for ways to save on back-to-school shopping.

        8. This is such a useful post. I love all the tips you have shared. My tip is mot to leave the shopping till last min when all the sizes have run out.

          1. Yes, and not to wait until the last minute when the school supplies are all picked-over and there’s not much left.

        9. Big list person over here. I also have been trying to check what I have at home first. This is a great list.

        10. Thank you for the great tips again! We will do school shopping for our boys next week and I’ll start buying in bulk. I think it will work perfectly with school supplies.

        11. Thanks for the great tips. I am sure they will be useful. When I was younger, we always just walked down the store aisles and filled our basket. Your tips would have been more effective.

        12. It’s always important to check and see what kids will need when they go back to school. Pens, highlighters etc run out so quickly, lids get left off and they dry out. This is all handy advice. We buy in bulk but then we have 3 keeps that need to have the essentials covered when returning each September. I look for sales and discounts over the year so that we always have supplies at home that the kids can have at hand as and when required.

          1. Yes, it’s better to buy in bulk and have what you need because if you run out mid-year, the prices are much higher.

        13. These will save many parents who are on tight budgets. including my family haha, I’m sharing these with them to keep in mind and help with school shopping, love your recommendations.

        14. Great tips for saving on back-to-school shopping! Do you have any specific recommendations for finding good deals on school shoes? Thanks for sharing these helpful ideas!

          1. I usually get shoes at thrift shops. It does get harder as children get older, though, especially boys.

        15. Bulk buying is such a great idea especially for suupplies like pens an erasers that grow feet and leave through out the school ear

        16. It is good to plan ahead to save on back to school things. I just started my shopping and will have to keep your tips in mind.

        17. This is a helpful post for parents who have kids returning to school. I love all the tips – so simple but often overlooked by us in the rush.

          1. Yes, I learned it’s better to get school things when they first come out; otherwise, Murphy’s law kicks in and we end up forgetting or waiting until the last minute and not much is left and is all picked over.

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