It’s back-to-school season, which means parents are digging into their wallets to get their children outfitted for the new school year.
Over the past decade, according to the National Retail Federation, parents have increased their school shopping by 42%. In the next few weeks, the average household is expected to spend $630 on everything from pencil sharpeners to fancy tennis shoes. All that shopping adds up to total spending of nearly $25 billion dollars.
There are ways to make this shopping ritual less expensive. Here are seven ideas:
1. Do an inventory.
Before heading out to shop, find out what you don’t need. With your children, sort through their clothes and determine what they actually need. If they have outgrown clothes and they are in good condition, consider donating them for a tax deduction or selling them to a used clothing store.
Do the same thing with supplies that can be hiding in desks, closets, under furniture and in bins. Do you really need a new ruler, scissors, lined paper, calculator, pencils and other typical items on back-to-school lists?
2. Consider unbranded supplies.
Your daughter may love Frozen or Justin Bieber, but it would be best to avoid buying a backpack, lunch box, notebook and other gear with favorite movie characters or celebrities. This stuff usually costs more and your kids may end up clamoring for new supplies when fads change.
3. Host a clothing swap.
Have a clothes-swapping party for friends with children of similar age. You may want to set a minimum number of clothing items to bring. Tell your friends that the clothes need to be clean and stain-free with no rips.
4. Put the brakes on spending.
Taking your children to the store for back-to-school shopping can easily get out of hand when your children want to fill a shopping cart. Consider giving each child a certain amount of money to spend. If you do that, it’s more likely that the child will focus on making that cash stretch as far as possible.
5. Shop at garage sales.
If your children are young, they are more likely to be happy with school supplies and/or clothes you find at garage sales.
6. Look online for coupons.
One way to track down coupons is to Google the name of the store and the term coupon. Your Sunday paper is another source. Focus on getting the best price for bigger ticket items like computers, advanced calculators, phones and backpacks.
7. Consider gift cards exchanges.
Once you know where you are going to shop, consider buying gifts cards to those stores on a giftcard exchange.