Back To School Money Saving Tips

Last Sunday, I  ran into Target for a couple of quick items needed to complete our lunch.  We had just left church, my mood was light, and the sun was shining bright.  The first thing that struck me from my first step into the store was the tension in the building.   Following that thought, I heard the sound of parents bickering and children crying.  I approached the ruckus and found that Target had taken down the sun lotion, sand toys, and pool floats.  In their place now stood rows of notebooks, binders, pencils, and crayons.

back to school shopping

While I wasn’t looking, the back to school season had once again snuck up on us.

I recently read a fascinating survey by the National Retail Federation, which highlighted the back to school spending habits of the average American Family and our nation as a whole.

Hold on to your hats!  The total spending for back to school shopping is expected to reach about 75 billion dollars this year.  The back to school season is the biggest consumer spending season!  Making it even bigger than Christmas, which is just absolutely mind blowing to me.  The average American family is expected to spend roughly $673.57 for their back to school shopping needs.

money roll

The family that I overheard bickering, were arguing over the fact that they were expected to purchase 42 glue sticks and 20 packs of crayons in addition to a bunch of other “necessary” items.  I have to admit that gave me pause for a moment.  I couldn’t help wondering what in the world that child was going to be learning with 42 glue sticks???  Surely there are some easier ways to save some money and get the kids prepared to step back into learning.  I put my thinking cap on and have some back to school money saving tips.

Buy in Bulk:  If your supply list happens to require large quantities (like 42 glue sticks), your best money saving option, is to shop at a big box store.  Even if your supply list doesn’t call for 20 packs of crayons, purchasing in bulk and splitting the cost with a few classmate’s families or friends will save you significantly.  This is true of purchasing notebooks, pencils, pens, and paper as well.

Shop Your Space:  Unless your teacher or school requires brand new items, often just by shopping school / office supplies in shopping cartthrough the drawers, closets, and bags laying around your space, you will find plenty of supplies.  Things like rulers, protractors, calculators, even pens and pencils, don’t need to purchased each year.  Take a walk through your space, give your children baskets and set them free to look for as many supplies as they can find and make a game out of it.  It may just save you some money.

Organize a Back to School Swap Party:   Things like backpacks and lunch boxes are often purchased new each year.  Consider hosting a swap party this year instead of buying new.  Invite friends to bring their gently used items and set up a swap.  Make up a game like a white elephant exchange to figure out who gets to take home the items.  This is fun for the kids and a big win for the budget.

Set a Budget:  Speaking of budgets…Make a money plan and work the plan.  According to the study mentioned earlier, clothes and electronics, are the big ticket items when discussing back to school expenses.  My encouragement to you is to set a budget and stick to it as closely as you can.  If you are of the mind that your child should be with you when shopping for the items on your list, be sure that the child knows what the set budget is.  For items like clothing, even electronics look into consigned items or refurbished items to keep the costs lower.


There is An App and a Coupon For That:  Shop sale circulars, search for store coupons, and get your phone working for you.  Most stores now have apps that can save you money as you shop in their store.  One of our family’s favorite money saving apps is Retail Me Not.  Never do we step to a register in a store where my husband doesn’t check to see if we can find a store coupon for additional savings.  For the most part, he is usually able to find one.  If you have never checked into money saving or savings catcher apps for your phone, I encourage you to do just that.

Hopefully you have found an idea on this list that you are not currently utilizing to help your family save some Benjamin’s.  From our family to yours, we send prayers and best wishes for a fabulous school year.

If you had to guess, would you say that the $673.57 amount, found in the survey we discussed above, is close or way off from what your family spends on back to school supplies?


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