Hobbies on a budget: Save Money on Back to School Shopping

Families everywhere are making lists, spending money and shopping for back to school. As the kids get older, it seems that the lists get longer. So how can you save money with back to school shopping but still get everything you need? Here are a few ways to stretch your dollars and spend smart!

Set a budget:

It seems that clothes, shoes, bags, and notebooks get more expensive each year. Help your kids understand that if they choose a more expensive item in one category that there is less money for other things. Some families even give the kids a set amount of money and have them do the shopping based on that amount.

Get your Kids Opinions:

As kids get older they have definite opinions and styles. It doesn’t make financial sense to buy something on the clearance or discount rack if you student is not going to wear or use the item. When the kids were little, I was able to buy ahead and let the kids ‘shop’ the closet. I had clothes and shoes stored back for the ‘next size up’. But now that they are older, I no longer have a stash stored ahead. I have found that I don’t save money by shopping the next size up. It is smarter for me to let the kids shop with me and try things on to make sure they like the style, fit and feel of each item. Trends don’t last, but neither do kids sizes. Buy classic pieces that they can mix and match. Then let them choose a few trendy pieces that will serve as accents for their classic choices. Buy a few quality pieces that they can work together to form an entire wardrobe.

Sometimes cheaper isn’t better:

Last year we went with a cheap, character backpack for my youngest son. It was cool and fun but not made well. We ended up having to buy another backpack and spend the money a second time. This year we will buy a better quality backpack that will hopefully last the entire year.

There are some companies that offer a guarantee on their products. Before you buy the cheap version, check online and see if you can find something that will last longer and still meet the needs of your kids.

Tip: Don’t forget the rebate sites when you are shopping online! You can start your shopping at Mr. Rebates or Ebates and get a percentage of your purchase credited back to your account!

Sign up for store deals:

If you have a favorite store where you love to shop, don’t be afraid to sign up for texts, emails or store loyalty cards. If you have good credit and discipline, then you may want to sign up for an in-store credit card that rewards your shopping habits.

Don’t buy everything NOW:

Kids grow fast so we space out back to school clothes shopping over the space of several months. We don’t even think about buying jeans and winter clothes until closer to Fall Break. It doesn’t make sense to buy things that the kids will outgrow before they hit the cool season.

Check your Closets First:

Before you head out to buy paper, notebooks, gluesticks and crayons, check your closets and storage first. Did you buy up extras last year and forget about your stash? Make sure you don’t buy things you already have stored back. Did you buy clothes last year on clearance that you need to pull out before the school year starts?

Going back to school can become an expensive event but there are ways to save money and stretch your dollars. How do you save money on back to school shopping? I’d love to hear!

For more ideas on hobbies and life, check out Hobbies on a Budget (www.hobbiesonabudget.com).