Summer may still be reigning in your home, but soon enough, it will be time for families to start thinking about back-to-school shopping. Regina Novickis, savings expert at PromotionalCodes.com, offers the following budget-friendly tips to score the best prices on back to school essentials.
1. Shop your home first. Take inventory of your drawers, cabinets and closets so you know what you already have before shopping. You’ll most likely find several forgotten items, and it makes no sense to double purchase generic items like paper and pencils.
2. Don’t get trendy just yet. Kids will want you to buy them what’s hot right now, but they may change their minds after seeing what other students have. Trendy gear like lunch boxes and backpacks should be avoided until a month or two into the school year. Then, you can make a safe investment knowing your child has what he wants.
3. Sign up for coupon alerts. Sites like PromotionalCodes.com allow you to have coupons sent right to your inbox. They have discounts for popular back-to-school clothing retailers like Sears, Sports Authority and many more. And the coupon alerts aren’t random; they reflect the time of year.
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4. Email a teacher. Ask your child’s teacher what supplies are absolutely needed before classes start. This will help you avoid wasteful spending on unneeded school supplies.
5. Buy used or rent. The savings potential is big when buying used electronics or renting textbooks. For electronics, consider a refurbished model; sometimes a new model of a camera, phone or computer is rated lower by reviewers than the model it replaces, and it could even mean the original owner simply opened the box and returned it without use. As your student gets older, textbooks can be one of the most expensive back-to-school purchases, so renting is a great option. Sites like BookRenter.com offer a multitude of textbooks for rent. Likewise, students can also buy books at a cheaper price on BookRenter.com and later sell them back to the site.
6. Host a mom swap. As a parent, you probably know mothers who have children in school. Ask them if there are any school supplies or clothes they’ve left unused or used. Bartering with other mothers is a great way to get items for free—and it’s also fun!
7. Take advantage of student discounts. Parents: your kid’s school ID can mean big savings. Retailers like Apple, Microsoft and DELL offer student-only pricing on laptops and often attach a free gift card to the purchase for printers, e-books or apps. Hunt for these deals during mid-August when laptops are expected to reach lowest pricing.
8. Purchase transitional clothing. Instead of buying the fall collection right away, purchase summer apparel that transitions well as the weather cools down. The department store sales will be going strong, where you can easily score 40 percent off summer apparel. Look for light sweaters, tanks and dresses to layer; hold off on cold weather clothing until the middle or end of the season when stores will slash prices to make way for holiday promotions.
9. Don’t buy everything at the dollar store. The dollar store is great for office supply items during most of the year, but during July and August, office supply, department and drug stores all offer back-to-school deals that far exceed dollar store pricing. Dollar stores are touting $1 folders and notebooks, while office supply stores offer 10-cent folders and 30-cent notebooks during back-to-school promotions.