It’s actually quite astonishing how expensive back to school products have become over the years. And it’s not just the cost of the traditional items, either, now there are a whole host of other things you are supposed to get for your kid. Add in the fact that parents are expected to shoulder more of the financial burden for supplies as schools across the nation face budget cuts and the situation appears quite bleak for families strapped for cash.
Thankfully, there is a way to handle those rapidly escalating back-to-school costs … coupons! By effectively using coupons and implementing a few other frugal shopping strategies, you can prepare your child for school without fretting about going into debt.
See below for proven techniques on how to save on expenses for each of the major back to school categories.
Shop Online and Use Promo Codes and Mail-In Rebates
When it comes to electronics, it’s often better to do your shopping online at stores like NewEgg or Tiger Direct. The reason for this is that those stores regularly offer exceptional promo codes on key back to school electronics like laptops, tablets and calculators. If you aren’t familiar with promo codes, they are essentially digital coupons that you can use to get a discount when shopping online. During back to school season, these sites tend to run special sales as well, so if you can combine a promo code and a clearance price, then you’ll save a lot of money. Bear in mind, though, that some promo codes are not eligible on clearance or sale items, so always make sure to read the fine print and verify the code was accepted before completing your purchase.
Another reason the aforementioned sites are so appealing for back to school electronics is that they also offer generous rebates. It does require some planning to check the rebate sections of each site and see whether the products you want to buy have associated rebates, but it’s worth the effort. Should you be lucky enough to stack a promo code with a clearance sale and a rebate then you will have hit the proverbial savings jackpot.
Clip Manufacturer Coupons
There is still no better way to save big on groceries than to use good old fashioned manufacturer coupons. They are accepted at most supermarkets as well as at discount stores such as Walmart and Dollar General. Coupons for non-perishable lunch staples such as crackers, chips and nuts are frequently available and many stores (such as Target) allow them to be stacked on top of store-specific sales and mobile coupons for maximum savings.
For pickier parents that only want to give their children organic foods, there are also plenty of coupons for those items, you just have to look in a different place. Online sites such as Mambo Sprouts and Earth Fare feature a wide range of printable coupons for organic and health food brands. There’s also the cash back option. Apps such as Berrycart and ibotta offer cash back on a variety of fresh produce and organic brands.
Join a Store Loyalty Program and Price Match
Rather than trying to go to a bunch of different stores in an effort to get the best possible price on each school supply, it will actually work to your benefit to choose just one store, sign up for its loyalty program and then price match where necessary. We recommend Staples due to its numerous rewards program perks, but many of the top school supply stores have their own rewards programs as well.
What makes Staples so attractive is that they give 2% back on all purchases in rewards that can be used toward future purchases and they also offer free shipping for any online purchase. Staples also has a very customer-friendly price matching policy. You should still research all the circulars to find the best prices on every school supply you need, but instead of buying it at different stores, just take the sales flyers to Staples and get them to match the price, while collecting rewards that you can use at a later date.
Zone in on Flash Sales
Long gone are the days when you were beholden to whatever sales were going on at the local shopping mall to find back to school clothes. The internet has changed fashion forever and one of the areas where that is most apparent is in back to school apparel. You can now get designer merchandise you’d never have dreamed of affording for your child at massive discounts by keeping an eye on flash sales.
Sites like Zulily and Gilt offer trendy clothing from top brands for way below the regular price for a limited time. The catch, of course, is that you have to act fast, because the items are only available for a few days, or in some cases hours, and go out of stock quickly, but the trade off is well worth it for your kid to have stylish attire for a fraction of the cost.