In whatever capacity you’ve opted in to, it’s time to head back to school, and that means a number of things — new schedules, new work and a lot of new school supplies.
But heading back to school isn’t cheap. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2020 Back to School Spending survey, most parents of elementary to high school students say they’re planning on dropping around $789 for this seasonal shopping alone. And college students? Well, they’re pushing over $1,000 as an expense projection.
Fortunately, many stores will be competing for those consumer dollars with sales and specials, but so many marketing signals can be confusing and overwhelming for even the most dedicated parents. So how do you go about saving money during this back-to-school season?
For one thing, don’t fall prey to shiny sales marketing. According to Cynthia Powell, who runs a few Facebook super-shopper groups like Money Tree Deals, many companies are sucking you in with the promise of a sale — but offering a price that’s more like standard.
“Often people look at sales signs or percent-offs and think they are getting a good deal, but they have not done enough shopping to know what a normal price is or a what good deal would be,” Powell says. “You’ll also see this on Amazon a lot, where the seller will set the ‘normal’ price high and then show a price drop, when that sales prices is really more like what you would normally get it for.”
Outside of navigating sales, there are a few other ways to save during back-to-school shopping:
Don’t buy what you don’t need. If you already have glue sticks at home, don’t buy more just because they’re in a sale bin.
Buy in bulk. Sure, you may not need 144 pencils, but by buying in bulk and splitting among several students, you’ll probably end up saving in the long run.
Do the research. If you’ve got a school supply list, or a good idea of what you need to buy in terms of a clothing resupply, you’ve got enough information to start price shopping. Jump on a few sites and search your list — you’ll be able to quickly determine what the going rate is and who is giving you the best deal in the end.
Don’t blow your budget. Even if there’s a good sale, keep in mind that you’ll likely have other costs right around the corner — school fees, book charges or even organization for a virtual classroom.