It’s that time of year! “Back to School” ads have been playing for a couple weeks now. As much as we loath to admit it, summer is coming to an end, and it’s time to start thinking about the fall. Some people absolutely love back to school shopping, while others dread the back to school rush. Wherever you fall on this spectrum, we have some tips for overcoming the back to school blues (at least, for the shopping part):
For Elementary-High School Students
- These years can be difficult to shop for, since clothing and pop culture trends change from year to year. Even if some items from the previous year are still useable, oftentimes students will want to get the newest items for the upcoming year (because all the other kids will have it), or if they’re still growing each year. To counteract the cost of trendier items, one idea is creating a compromise. For instance, only allowing one “character item” each year, be it a backpack, designer jeans, etc, and everything else must be purchased on a budget.
- You can also use this as a teachable moment in saving money, incentivizing it by making it a game. Create a budget, and make it into a game to see who can save the most.
- Even before shopping, take inventory of the things you already have on hand, perhaps left over from last year (odds are, you don’t really need to purchase a calculator every year).
For College Students
- The back to school list for a college student looks a bit different than the younger years. Dorm essentials and textbooks often eat up most of the expenses, but there are still ways to save on these expenses, too. Remember, new is overrated in a lot of cases. The $25 dorm fridge you buy on Craigslist will work just as well as the $75 new one.
- Sometimes, professors will have their syllabus online before you arrive back at school, so you can start bargain shopping for textbooks early, rather than succumbing to full price at the bookstore. Browse websites like Amazon or Chegg.com, where you can often find used copies of the books you need at much more affordable prices. At the end of the semester, you can even sell the books back on those websites.
- Another option, especially for recommended or supplemental reading, is to see if it’s available in your school’s library or through a borrowing program with another library.
- Start your shopping/back to school plan early, so you have time to find the best deals rather than settling for last minute, panic induced purchases. Many companies post upcoming sales or even coupons on their social media accounts or send them out to their email newsletters. Keep checking for updates (or subscribe for notifications) for deals you might actually be interested in.
- Although couponing may not sound fun or exciting, it’s another easy way to save money. In the digital age, retailmenot.com is a great way to peruse deals from mulitple locations all on one website (they also have an app for mobile browsing).
- Collaborate with others. A friend’s graduating son no longer needs their graphing calculator for example and you borrow or buy it for your son going into algebra. You can make it fun with a ‘swap’ or simply ask around about some higher priced items in particular.
Remember, back to school sales aren’t just for students! This is also a great time of year to re-stock on your home or business office supplies, like printer paper/cartridges, pens, and almost anything else you can think of! Stock up now, and enjoy the savings throughout the year.
Good luck to all students getting ready for a new year!