How to save on back to school shopping and back to school supplies?

Guest Post

It’s back to school time, which means back to school shopping – Here are some tips on not spending too much on back to school supplies

Top 5 Back to School Shopping Mistakes

Many parents dread back to school shopping. It can be overwhelming and exhausting and almost everybody ends up going over their budget. You can stay within your price range by avoiding these common back to school shopping mistakes.

1. Shopping Without a List

It may seem obvious, but shopping without a list is one of the easiest ways to get off track. Go through all your child’s clothes and figure out what needs to be donated or thrown out, and what can be worn again. Record all the clothes that are still wearable and then make a list of what your child still needs. Put your list on the fridge, in your wallet, or in a location where you’re unlikely to forget it. If you have a smartphone, consider making a list on it so you can take it with you everywhere.

2. Shopping Without a Set Price Limit

Before you head out on a shopping trip, take a look at your finances. First, decide how much you can spend on back to school supplies over all. Then, designate a specific amount for the excursion you’re about to take. As you shop, record the prices of items you place in your cart; that way, you can track your spending and call it quits when you’ve reached your spending limit.

3. Shopping on Impulse

Although the urge to buy may strike at any moment, be sure to plan your shopping trips. Research upcoming sales in your vicinity and schedule your outings accordingly. Take into account that certain states — Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia — offer tax-free back-to-school shopping holidays during which they lift the sales tax on school supplies, clothing, computers, computer accessories, and instructional materials.[1]

4. Ignoring Thrift Stores

Shopping for gently used clothes is a smart way to lower your overall back-to-school spending. Thrift and resale stores often have a huge selection of kids clothing that may be only a season old or lightly worn. These shops can be great places to find basics too, like sweatshirts or jackets. As a safety precaution, wash everything before giving it to your child.

5. Ignoring Online Shopping

Shopping online for school supplies or back-to-school clothes can be a great way to find lower prices on standards. A quick search for your favorite stores may give you access to online-only sales. If you’re particularly dedicated to online shopping, you may be able to score even lower prices by participating in product auctions on eBay. Just be sure that you don’t get caught up in the competition and never place a bid over your target price. Back-to-school shopping can be hectic for students and parents alike. Even if you avoid the top five shopping mistakes, chances are that it still won’t be a walk in the park. Give yourself a little mid-shopping boost by bringing along a granola bar, or a piece of fruit, and a bottle of water. Stay focused and you may have your most budget-friendly back to school shopping season yet.

Rachel writes articles for Check ‘n Go on responsible borrowing, investment, and budgeting.

References [1] Torabi, Farnoosh. “Tax-Free Weekends: Back-to-School Savings in 15 States.” CBS Money Watch. 08 05 2011: n. page. Web. 5 Jul. 2012.


  1. Oh, I shop online a lot…good to know that isn’t a booboo.

  2. Great tips. I like to check the sales online before going shopping.

  3. Great tips, I especially need to stick with a limit.

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