15 Ways to Save on Back to School Shopping

Summer is starting to wind down, and retailers are waiting in the wings for parents to start their back to school shopping. Why is there so much anticipation? Back to school shopping is the second biggest consumer spending event for retailers and parents will be spending an estimated $55.12 billion to gear their K-12 and college students for this school year.

Now let’s break down the average budget for parents who are gearing up their kids:

  • Clothing and accessories – $225.47
  • Electronic and computer-related needs – $181.60
  • Shoes – $102.93
  • School Supplies – $96.39One out of three parents will be using the Internet to comparison shop online. Fat Wallet is doing their best to help parents find the best back to school deals. Between these deals and some frugal know-how, you can outfit your kids for school without breaking the budget. Here are some ways to save when you’re back to school shopping:


  • Do an inventory of your kids’ closets. See what still works from last year and shop only for items that they’ve outgrown or worn out.
  • Checkout the summer clearance sales first. While you might not be able to get all your kids clothes on sale, make sure that you start in sales and then work your way into full price
  • Avoid buying trendy clothes that will be out of season within a few months. Stick to the classics, such as jeans, solid t-shirts, dress shirts, and khakis that will be versatile with your child’s existing wardrobe. If your kid insists on one or two trendy pieces, offer a small compromise of having them work for it through extra chores or use their own spending money.
  • Buy clothing with adjustable waistlines and reinforced knees. These pieces might be a little extra but they’ll last longer and grow with your kid.
  • Don’t shop all at once. Buy what you need to start the school year and then slowly add pieces as the fall/winter clothes go on sale.Computer/Electronics
  • Your kid doesn’t need the latest, greatest computer to do their school work. Make sure that you buy a computer that fits your kid’s needs, not wants.
  • Kids can be rough on electronics so consider purchasing warranties. Just make sure that the warranty covers accidental damage and not just manufacturer defects.
  • Avoid buying the latest MP3 players and SmartPhones. While your kid might want these items, they’re not necessary to going back to school.Shoes
  • Check your closet and inventory their shoes. Minor repairs, a good cleaning and replacing the shoe laces can breathe new life into old shoes.
  • Buy multi-purpose shoes that will go with the majority of the wardrobe. A good rule of thumb is the buy one pair of sneakers and one pair of comfortable dress shoes.
  • Many retail stores offer buy one, get one free deals on shoes around this time. If your child is growing, don’t worry about the longevity and concentrate on price.School Supplies
  • Check with your school to see if they publish a list of school supplies needed for each grade. The list will narrow your options, and avoid making mistakes that you’ll have to return later.
  • Shop at home first. Inventory the leftover school supplies, and make a list of items that you need immediately. Many parents try to buy everything at once and it creates an unnecessary strain on the budget.
  • Only buy in bulk on items that you’ll use a lot, such as paper, pencils and pens. If you only use the items sporadically throughout the year, don’t buy them in bulk.
  • Buy plain school supplies and then have your kids accessorize it themselves. You’ll always pay more for the flashy folders than the basics.Make sure to use Fat Wallet to find online deals and get cash back on your purchases. Shopping online will reduce arguments, avoid the hassle of crowds and skip any impulse buying that can happen in the aisles. Only shop in-store for items that you’re not sure on, and don’t let your kids steer you off track. If your kid wants something that’s not on the list, refuse to give into the request. It may not make you popular but it will save your budget and teach them some money management.

About the Author:
The following is a guest post from Kathryn Katz, a Certified Personal Finance Counselor who works for Consolidated Credit Counseling Services in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

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