More Bang For Your Back To School Buck

   By drodriguez  Aug 18, 2008

For most parents out there, the end of August means we will be spending a lot of time hitting the stores scrambling for backpacks, folders, and the perfect first day of school outfit for our children.  Last year the U.S. Census Bureau reported that $7.5 billion was spent by consumers in family clothing stores.  Sales at bookstores were up as well, totaling a whopping $2.3 billion in August of 2007.


It seems though, this year back-to-school shoppers will be looking for the bargains and pinching their pennies more than ever.  A recent article from the Miami Herald offers some helpful tips from money experts and parents in the know on how to save a few bucks as you ready yourself for the new school year.


One seemingly obvious, but often overlooked tip they offer is to take inventory of what you already have before leaving to shop.  If that old backpack you have can tough it out one more year then there is no need to purchase another one.


As a way to avoid “impulse shopping” the article advises to make a list and stick to it.  It is when you walk around aimlessly in a store that you end up spending the most money as well as making unneeded purchases.  Also, shopping in second hand stores or hitting the weekend yard sale may prove to be a very thrifty alternative to department stores.


And for the organized-at-heart, it is advised that you shop year round in order to get the best deals.  Buying things like folders, pencils, and paper year round will also keep you ready for any early morning surprises when your child lets you know they need some extra supplies.


For the parents whose kids are off to college, the article suggests you take an active role in their textbook shopping.  A lot of students and parents are shocked the first time they get their textbook list and see the extremely high prices.  If you can buy a used book, definitely do it.  If the school’s store does not offer them, there are many websites that sell used textbooks.


What do you think of some of the tips offered above for back to school shopping?


Do you have any secrets on how to save this August?

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LoMa1234 by LoMa1234 | FRANKLIN, MA
Sep 08, 2008

I buy all of my college text books on I refuse to pay what the school book stores are asking.

As for supplies like pens/pencils/notebooks etc. I scour the sale flyers and clip coupons. This summer, Pert Plus and Sure deodorant had an $5 worth of Pert or Sure and they would send you a $5 rebate on a purchase of $5 worth of school supplies. THey also had coupons for the shampoo and deodorant,so if you waited for the right sale, you got free shampoo and $5 worth of free school supplies.

I also buy a lot of my clothes on clearance at the end of the season, then hang them in my closet w/tags still on. When I open my closet at the beginning of the new season and see a bunch of new clothes it always makes me happy.

Salemsw by Salemsw | Millbury, MA
Sep 04, 2008

I always buy backpacks in like December when there on clearance-at Payless shoes last year I got my daughter a backback for 8 dollars that works for me. I try to buy what I can on clearance when I see items. Like Sears if you go in Feburary you can get winter coats for cheap and I just buy them a size or 2 bigger. Last year my son's jacket was marked down from 89 dollars to 13 dollars NOW really how can you beat that. Same way with bathing suits-last year at Sears in November I got my daughter who was 11 a really nice bathing suit for $2.47 and I got at least 12 comments at swimm lessons this past summer on where I got it and there mouths dropped when I told the other Moms what I paid for it. T.J max flip flops for next year $.97 cents-better the money in my pocket then in there's!!!!

Iwantedtobearockstar by Iwantedtobearockstar | Minnetonka, MN
Sep 03, 2008

My mom made me keep the same backpack for several years of high school. It wasn't a big deal until the bottom started wearing thin and one fateful afternoon fell through, resulting in all of my textbooks and notebooks and folders collapsing into a giant puddle during a light rainstorm.

Anyway, the back-to-school stuff goes on clearance at the end of September so buy some things you think you'll need the following year at rock-bottom prices.

louise6736 by louise6736 | Middleburg Hts, OH
Aug 28, 2008

We always go through the school supplies from last year to see what is still in good condition. My daughter does not need a new box of crayons or colored pencils every year just because the ones from last year were used a little bit. As long as they are in ok condition, she keeps using them. We also look around the house to see what we have that is on the list. An old shirt of mine was a great paint smock when she was younger.

cheescakelady by cheescakelady | perry, FL
Aug 27, 2008

I've learned from the "queen of penny pinchers":

1) Research what is the best quality & Know what you want ***Have alerts for best buy point*** don't get in a hurry....

2)Know what stores give the best bag for your buck

3)Look for freebies

4)Use your coupons/ check for coupons on line

5)Read the ads/ make a listand stick to it (***Don't always buy family size...Marketing ploy) -use calculator to see what the price per oz/quantity is the best deal

6)Provide feedback to companies

7) Be Alert at all times...listen to other to learn new tricks

gettinrevvin by gettinrevvin | Shippensburg, PA
Aug 27, 2008

I'm very fortunate to have learned great couponing tips. I managed to get school supplies for my kids this year, for free w/ coupons. Will shop for backpacks during the closeouts, at the end of the year.

jmsargent by jmsargent | Honey Brook, PA
Aug 25, 2008

I work very part-time and I am a full time mother and student. Nothing like a full plate. My husband and I look for end of season sales...I shop a lot at Old Navy, JCPennys and Kohls for clothing. Their end of season sales are awesome!!!! For school supplies, we are very fortunate that our daughter goes to an elementary school where she only needs to have extra pencils. Make a list and stick to it.

bluemtndiva by bluemtndiva | Stuart, VA
Aug 25, 2008

I know this may seem like taking frugality over the top, but hey, I was raised in a household that washed and reused plastic baggies.... At the end of every school year, my four boys bring home all their stuff. Yes, we have rulers and crayons and scissors that can be reused again......but beyond that...check their notebooks! We had no fewer than 7 spiral notebooks that had only a few pages used in the front. I ripped those pages out and, tada! new notebook!

TiffanyFriis by TiffanyFriis | Taunton, MA
Aug 25, 2008

Carpool! I bring my sister and my mother with me. If there is a limit on a product, we each get the limit and stand seperately in line so I can get the max of the product. Then when my kids ask for something, I tell them we don't have money for extra's and either my sis or mom usually pick it up!

stefani56 by stefani56 | lawrenceville, GA
Aug 24, 2008

I have seven children, four of which are in school. I watch the sale papers like a hawk and whenever I see a deal that is good (like wal-mart's 5 cent spiral notebooks for sale) I go and stock up as much as possible. As for clothes, we hit the sales all year long and often times find great deals! JC Penney is the best with their clearances. I found jeans for $9 for my 1 year old. They look really good. You just have to watch carefully.

JEM4612 by JEM4612 | HOFFMAN EST, IL
Aug 22, 2008

I like the tips for the college text books. The other tips I have been using for years (frugal parents were great role models for me).

kaylakyle by kaylakyle | marlton, NJ
Aug 22, 2008

always have to have a new backpack...just wait til right before school starts...everything on sale!

notanlines211 by notanlines211 | glasgow, KY
Aug 22, 2008

The best thing I have found for school was when I ordered my daughters backpack from Lands End. I has lasted her now 3yrs and she is 15 and every year I had always had to get her a new one by the end of each year.This 1 has held up great. She carries alot of big heavy books and this backpack has been the best. She still loves it and it still looks pretty good.

debi_123 by debi_123 | Sylvester, GA
Aug 22, 2008

Great!! one thing though ... Schools here offer a list of needed supplies. I always only get the totally have to haves and then wait until the stores have the couple of days after the first day of school sales you will find loads of things for half price! I was able to buy five subject theme books for only ten cents this year needless to say I did buy what I hoped was all the kids would need for a long time. They had the elmers glue buy one get one free and the 8 pack of bick pens buy one get one free. So the day after the first day of school is great for bargain shopping.

jhcottle by jhcottle | Richlands, NC
Aug 22, 2008

I know some others have said this but it really saves some money. Last spring, I picked up winter coats in the mall for my three girls for $20 total. I always do those surveys on the receipts and save them. Then when the store has winter gear on clearance I buy a size bigger for the next winter and pull out those filled out surveys to get additional off. Each coat ended up to be around $6. They're Children's Place so they're good quality and beautiful! I'm always thinking ahead!