Back To School Shopping: How To Shop On A Budget

It’s that time of year again, time to prepare the kids for getting back in the swing of things. Back to school means many things including: quite home, earlier bedtimes, and shopping for school stuff. Once the calender changes to August first it instantly feels as if the rest of the year is fast forwarded straight to the holiday season. For the sake of this post we’ll just focus on back to school shopping. If you’re anything like me, you appreciate the finer things in life, like getting more for less and knowing just where to shop for the best deals. The people around me often times leave our conversation stating a similar phrase, “wow I never though of that.” So instead of keeping secrets I’ll simply welcome you to continue reading to see just how my system can benefit you and your coins.

Back To School Shopping

Back To School Shopping

1. Take Inventory Of What You Already Have! Back to school shopping is a lot like grocery shopping, when you have a better idea of what you need your budget won’t appear to be as tight. Take a moment to inspect under clothes, tops/bottoms and shoes to get a better feel of what you will need to buy.  If your kids wear uniforms be sure to have a fashion show! Have them try on each piece to ensure that they have some room for growth. Nothings worse than getting to Halloween and having to replace half a wardrobe.

2. Be prepared! Print off that school supplies list to ensure your little ones will have everything that they need when they return back to school. Large chains such as Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Big Lots are great at advertising deals for back to school supplies so take a moment to check their online circulars to ensure you are getting the best possible price. My local Wal-Mart had notebooks on sale for $.17 just a few days ago! Deals like this are common toward the beginning of the month. Don’t get stuck shopping in the last minute crowd and thinking you got a really great deal when you are really paying inflated prices. The stress and attitude of shopping among other late shoppers is no fun. Just think about Black Friday and avoid the chaos altogether. 

Now that you have completed your inventory and have your list in hand. Lets get down to business!

3. Utilize Thrift Stores To Save Big!!! Now if you are not a fan of thrift stores, I will give you a pass this time and assume you just didn’t know any better. Read here to get my take. The bulk of the items that your kids will need can actually come from here. If your kids wear uniforms, be sure to check your local stores as gently worn uniform pieces are often donated because kids routinely have growth spurts throughout the year. This will prove to be a lifesaver. If your kids don’t wear uniforms than you are in luck! You will find an array of clothes in various styles, colors and brands for less than $6 a piece and many are in excellent condition. Shopping your local thrift stores for apparel such as jeans, tops, coats, hats and sometimes shoes will prove to be a great money saver. **If you are not completely sold on thrift stores, feel free to step it up and search for local consignment stores in your area. Often times you will find new clothes with tags for a great price.  Also, thrift stores in nicer (higher cost of living) areas/neighborhoods will result in a slightly higher price tag with more name brands. One more thing, check your local thrift stores for discount days. Value Village and Unique stores are generally 25% off on Monday and Thursdays however when you have the stores discount or VIP card you will receive bonus offers. You will be informed of 50% off days as well. No need to leave any savings to chance. When shopping a thrift store on a discount day I generally pay about $3 per piece if not less. So you can see just how much money you “could be” saving by simply starting here first before going to pay full price at a major retailer.

4. Shopping Online with Ebay! If you are already a seller on Ebay, I don’t have to tell you that you should already have a “lot” of clothes listed for sell. This is the time that back to school shopping is in full swing and parents are looking to get the most for their money. This makes it possible for you to reuse the money that you have just made. I call this, “recycling of funds.” If you aren’t a seller, simply log onto Ebay and type “clothes boy/girls lot” in the search box or specifically what you are looking for (ie. girls jeans size 10). Prepare to enjoy many options regarding clothes that are priced to sell. You can bid on auctions or simply use the “Buy It Now” feature when available. Either way, by shopping online you will quickly cut down on your time spent shopping in stores and waiting in line.

5. Take Advantage Of Discount Stores!  Stores like Marshall’s, T.J. Maxx, Old Navy, Target are great for getting more for your money. I tend to look at cost per piece to decide if my overall purchase was a hit or a miss. If I can get the majority of my pieces for $7 each (or less) that means I can get about 14 pieces for less than $100. Now to me, that’s winning! I’m just saying….

6. Don’t Feel As If You Need To Buy For The Entire School Year! This is a mistake that many parents will make and retailers will love you for it. While I’m not sure where you are located, here in Maryland, its still warm when school starts. So many of the clothes that are worn during the summer can still be worn during the first month and a half of school. So when you are shopping, if you are feeling as if something isn’t a great deal simply fold it back up. Place it back down on the table, and back away. Let somebody else buy it. Many of the retailers mark up last years clothes and combine it with great advertising to make you feel better about your purchase. The clothes will still be there a month after school has started, feel free to buy than when the prices have settled, the other shoppers are on to the next thing and you can browse in peace.

7. What’s Better Than Free! If you have kids, chances are you have friends, family and possibly friends of friends who have kids around the same age. Have you ever considered swapping gently used clothes? Sometimes it seems as if we simply get tired of seeing the same pieces of clothes week after week in our laundry. Consider having a meet up where each person brings a certain number of pieces to swap out. Whats old to you will be new to the next person. This is a creative way to shop for free! No money changes hands however everyone leaves with a bag (or two) of new goodies.

The 7 tips that I listed are what I came up with in a matter of minutes. However, I am certain that if you take a few moments that you will also come up with a few equally great ideas of how to stretch your shopping budget. Back to school shopping doesn’t have to break the budget. Make the decision to forego the hyped up retail trap and save some money while being a bit creative in your actions.

As a bonus, I would love to share a simple way that you can turn some of your unwanted items into instant cash! While the app is still pretty new it has proved to be both simple and a great way to unload unwanted items. The app is “OfferUp.” I use it on my android device and personally love the ease of the app! You can literally list an item in less than three minutes. I just sold a group of my daughters toys for $20 that I originally purchased for about the same price around Christmas time. So, its as if I rented the toys! I listed the items yesterday and had 6 messages by the next morning.  You simply take a picture, create a title, short description, name a price, the condition of the item and its location and your done.  It truly is that simple. No seller fees, no Paypal fee, you simply sell an item and make money. Feel free to message me here to learn more. I love sharing ways to make money from home. If you are interested in learning a few other ways, be sure to check out my ebook, “How To Make Money Now Using What You Already Have!”

I hope these tips have helped you in some way. Be sure to share it, comment and check in soon for more cost saving tips!


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