The start of a new school year is almost here! That means the back-to-school shopping season is in full swing. With inflation at record highs, many are worried about the impact prices will have on their back-to-school shopping budgets, as the average family is expected to spend an average of $864 on school supplies this year. No matter where you shop and what you need this school year, these savings tips for back-to-school shopping will ensure you get what you need without compromising your finances.

#1: Create a Plan & Budget
Never start shopping without a list! Start by sitting down with your child (or children) and list your supply needs in order of importance. This will allow you also to cross off anything you may already have and set clear expectations before you let your child loose in the store. For example, if you have a supply of usable pens and pencils lying around the house, cross them off the shopping list to save money for other high-priority items. Once you have a shopping list, it’s time to create a budget for the precise list. This also provides a valuable personal finance learning opportunity for older children!

#2: Compare Prices Before Buying
Get the best possible deal on supplies and clothes with just a few minutes of searching online. Using websites such as Consumer Reports, you’ll get a snapshot of what retailers charge for products across various categories. For other items, such as clothing tools such as Google Shopping, aggregate prices all in one place to save time. However, if you’re already in the store, many major retailers offer price matching on their competitors, so consumers can get a better price without leaving the store. It’s important to note that every retailer has different price matching rules, so be sure to ask a salesperson or do a quick look-up before or during your shopping trip.

#3: Explore Second-Hand Options
Not everything you buy for the new school year has to be new. This doesn’t mean you need to force your preteen to use a Paw Patrol backpack because it was the only one at your local thrift store. There are several second-hand places to shop for clothes and backpacks online and offline. Many towns have more than one consignment and thrift shop in the area and frequent garage sales this time of year. Regarding online shopping Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, and ThredUP are all great online second-hand shopping methods. As far as electronics go, a certified used model typically works just as well when bought from reputable sellers such as Amazon, Best Buy, or the manufacturer themselves. With newer laptops and other consumer electronics in high demand, this can be an excellent way to get a machine that meets your students’ needs at a lower cost.

#4: Look for Sales Even After School Starts
While tempting, you don’t need to do all your school shopping all at once before school starts. With the influx of back-to-school sales and your kids’ desire for a new wardrobe and entire set of school supplies, getting everything before the first day may feel like a necessity. However, it is possible to buy little by little each month of the year instead of blowing your entire budget in August. Some of the most popular clothing stores run sales year-round and constantly send coupons, especially as their sales volume dwindles at the end of the back-to-school season. In addition, school supplies may be higher priced to meet the demand for the season; therefore, using some of last year’s pencils and pens until they run out is an option. Lastly, if something goes on sale even after a purchase, some retailers will pay out the difference after a certain period with a receipt or a return and repurchase of an item. This type of policy does vary but can always be found online or by asking a salesperson.

#5: Don’t Forget About the Dollar Store
Don’t forget about your local dollar store! They usually have several name-brand products that sell for four times the price at your local office supply store. In addition, certain items such as clipboards, poster boards, planners, and pens here are just as good as anywhere else.

Saving money doesn’t have to be complicated. Your family, your budget—and your wallet—will thank you in the long run! Contact us today to get started with products and services to help you reach your savings goals.