Yes, I realize summer just began for some of you. Yes, I know it was just the Fourth of July. Yes, I understand most of you have nearly two months of lazy summer days in front of you.
Still, the stores are ready to shift gears and if you want to maximize your savings, you need to start thinking about those classroom lists.
Here’s how to have less stress and more savings with your back-to-school shopping.
Shop by the list
Ideally, your school will have either sent home next year’s supply list with your student on the last day or posted the new list on the school website.
However, if your school isn’t quite so forward-thinking, use last year’s list as a guide. Also, take a quick once-over of everyone’s backpacks and lunch bags to see if they will last another year.
Create a master list of everything you need from school supplies to clothes to accessories and tuck it into your purse or wallet for quick reference while in the store. Too many times we buy things that are a great deal simply because we can’t remember if we need them. Keeping a list handy prevents you from wasting money on those types of buys.
Spread out your purchases
Office supply stores and other retailers offer super cheap supplies ““ think a penny for paper or crayons ““ in the hopes you’ll come in and buy your entire list of supplies while there.
Beat them at their game. Spread your purchases out and only buy the really great deals each week. You’ve got about eight more weeks until school starts so you can take your time. Most of the basics will be available for less than a dollar, and at some point, the backpacks and lunch bags will be 50 percent off.
Now, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to make a special trip to a store for one or two items. I recommend swinging in to shop when you’re already in the area. Since you’ll only be buying the best bargains, these should be quick trips.
If you’re never nearby the big box stores, see if you know someone who works nearby and might be willing to stop in once or twice on your behalf. Or combine forces with a couple friends with school age kids. Maybe each week a different parent can make the school supply run to pick up the best deals.
Buy extras of all the basics
When you do see those penny packs of paper and 10 cent crayons, buy extras. Normally, those deals have limits ““ maybe five per customer. Go ahead and buy all five even if your child’s supply list only says two.
Chances are, your child may need more by the time the school year is out. Even if that’s not the case, cash-strapped schools could probably use the extra supplies and for 50 cents more, it’s a cheap way to help out.
Save the clothes shopping for later
Finally, I recommend saving the clothes shopping for later in August. Sure, there might be deals available now, but something about the summer sun makes some kids grow like weeds.
Rather than buy now and find your child adds a couple inches over the next two months, wait to do your clothes shopping last. If you do shop for clothes now, keep the tags on and save your receipts in case you need to make returns or exchanges later.