Back-to-School Shopping: Delayed Gratification and Other Tricks to Trim Your Spend

mom and daughter back to school shopping
If you’ve procrastinated over doing your child’s back-to-school shopping because inflation has made the task seem about as fun as a trip to the dentist, you might be in luck. That’s because waiting until after the summer back-to-school sales may help you save. Below you’ll learn why and get some additional tips for making your shopping experience as joyful as graduation day.

Hooray for the delay
It’s likely there are items on the list from your child’s school that won’t be needed immediately—if at all. Ask teachers which items can be put on the back burner until prices cool off. Electronics, in particular, tend to come down significantly in price after Labor Day. Clothing price tags tend to fall in, well, the fall. Waiting also has the added benefit of spreading the total financial burden of sending kids back to school over a few months.

In-home treasure hunt
If you’re like everyone else who has ever shopped, you’ve bought an item only to realize later you already had it at home. So before you start spending, look first in your storage areas at home. This generation of kids tends to embrace reducing, reusing, and recycling, so get them involved in the hunt, too.

Online and under budget
If you’re savvy using online tools to reach your goals, saving big on the back-to-school list could be just a few clicks away.

  • Sign up for the email list of your favorite stores and follow them on social media to get immediate discounts and ongoing coupons.
  • For big-ticket items, use a price-tracking site to make an initial cost comparison and monitor any changes in price after that.
  • Use browser extensions that automatically search for coupons when visiting an online retailer.
  • Take advantage of the sign-up bonus from a cash-back shopping site and subsequent rebates.
  • To find great deals on used items for your youngster, visit the marketplace area of your favorite social media sites before you buy new.

Clothing can send the total outlay for school shopping through the roof. Sharing the spending limit with your child can go a long way toward avoiding arguments and lingering hard feelings. If there are a few pricey pieces of apparel your junior style icon absolutely must have, make sure they understand the impact that will have on the overall clothing budget. For example, shelling out for a few high-priced items at fashionable boutiques may necessitate thrift store shopping to fill out the rest of the wardrobe. This disciplined approach can help keep your expenses inside the stratosphere and teach your child a valuable lesson about limited resources and prudent money decisions.

Strengthen your numbers
If you know other families with children returning to school, consider buying items in bulk together and then divvying them up to get a lower unit cost. To kick the savings into high gear, organize a swap event with other families that have school-age kids. Things other kids no longer want or can use (like clothes) might be perfect for your child. Spending time facilitating such efforts could put extra dollars in your pocket.

Don’t look a gift card in the mouth
It’s easy to forget about that gift card you got from Aunt Maria for that big box store. It’s especially easy to forget the one from Uncle Jerome for that store you’d never even heard of before. Both can help you escape the school shopping blues. Gather up all your unused gift cards and determine which can be used for school items and which can’t. For the ones that can’t be put toward educational needs, consider trading them in for cold hard cash at any websites that buy unused gift cards. Putting that dough toward your child’s must-haves can make a big difference.

Not left to your own devices
Many folks will tell you to look for refurbished tech for your child to save massively. That’s solid advice, but you may be able to find gadgets just as good for free. If your family’s got a group text going or a regular gathering place on social media, put the word out about that laptop or phone needed by the young scholar in your home. You might find that your relatives have unused devices just lying around. Make sure your query reaches that family member who continually upgrades instantly to the latest tech. You know the one.

A rewarding experience
Have you ever checked out at a drugstore or other retailer and been asked if you’d like to use your rewards toward the purchase? Go through your loyalty program cards and consider which might help knock out a few items on your student’s list.

With the average family spending $864 on back-to-school in 2022, there’s a lot of room for economizing. By shopping on your schedule and taking the time to consider all your options, you can make the grade and save.

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