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Thursday, October 28, 2021

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Money-Saving Tips for Back-to-School Shopping

The idea of shopping for back-to-school (BTS) sounds strange after 18 months of emergency homeschooling of virtual and hybrid learning. As parents, it is our job to get our children excited again for in-person school and new educational experiences. How are you getting your student reset for a new school year? This year may feel different but new shoes, clothing, backpacks, and school supplies always top my boys’ BTS shopping list and really helps them get into a new school year mindset. 

According to a National Retail Federation press release on July 15, 2020, “Parents with children in elementary school through high school say they plan to spend an average $789.49 per family, topping the previous record of $696.70 they said they would spend last year.”

Do you shop throughout the year or do you typically start your BTS shopping in early July through the start of school? I don’t know about you but it seems I am always needing pencils, glue sticks and paper. Sometimes I find the best deals in July when stores are competing for my business and other times I hit a bargain on Amazon’s deal of the day.

Tips and tricks to save on BTS shopping:

  1. Have a plan
  2. Know what supplies are requested by teachers
  3. Check store flyers
  4. Set a budget
  5. Sign up for store emails to be informed of sales
  6. Visit money-saving apps and websites
  7. Shop clearance and dollar stores
  8. Use coupons
  9. Buy used or refurbished items

Take advantage of tax-free shopping. Virginia’s Tax-free shopping weekend is August 6-8. Qualifying items must fall beneath a certain price. School supplies must be $20 or less per item. Clothing and shoes must be $100 or less per item. The tax-free weekend includes items purchased in stores, online, by mail or by telephone. Amazon also observes local sales tax holidays on qualifying items.

Use Credit Cards. Earn cashback and/or use points to offset the cost of school supplies. Check with your credit card company for participation.

Ask for student discounts and/or check store offers. Many stores offer student discounts on school supplies, books, clothing, electronics/digital services/phones, food/dining, travel/transportation, insurance, fitness and entertainment.

In addition to these tips, I also like to follow Passionate Penny Pincher, The Krazy Coupon Lady, RetailMeNot and DealsPlus for hot deals and coupons. I also recently learned that Dollar Tree accepts manufacturer coupons but not competitor coupons.

No matter if your BTS shopping plan is a carefully developed excel spreadsheet or if it’s written on the back of a napkin now is the time to scoop up deals while stores offer steep discounts on pencils, crayons, rulers, glue sticks, calculators, colored pencils, tissues, folders, pens, scissors, notebooks, erasers and highlighters.

Nikki Ducas
Nikki Ducas is a freelance writer and for the past 8+ years writes the money column for Fredericksburg Parent & Family Magazine. She has lived in Fredericksburg for 16 years with her husband and is a homeschooling mom to their two boys. Nikki enjoys hiking, knitting and her other side hustles of pet sitting and event management.

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