As a parent, it seems as though we are constantly bombarded with expenses. Extra-curricular activities, birthday parties, lunch money, and the list goes on and on! However, one of the most expensive times of the year is definitely back-to-school. In fact, The Huffington Post claims that the average family spends $688 on back-to-school shopping! Since my budget falls far below that number, I use every tip and trick I can find to save a few bucks.

 

Here are the top 8 tips that I’ve learned over the past few years for saving money during back-to-school season:

1. Use your phone

As a Krazy Coupon Lady, you probably already have a few money-saving apps on your phone—so use them! RedLaser, ShopSavvy and Amazon Price Check are all great apps to have on hand to compare prices. And if you want to check out weekly ads while you’re out shopping, GeoQpons features weekly ads for such stores as CVS, Target and Michaels. Lastly, check in on Foursquare while you’re in stores to see if there are any deals to unlock! Last summer, stores such as Best Buy, JCPenney and Barnes & Noble all offered specific back-to-school deals on Foursquare!

2. Shop at unexpected places

Instinct may tell you to purchase all of your child’s school supplies at a local office supply store and their clothing at the mall, but you can often find some great deals at unexpected places. Be sure to check out dollar stores, craft stores and art supply stores—all of which stock up on school supplies from June to September and offer some pretty spectacular deals. When it comes to clothing, check out local resale stores, where you’ll often find items that are new or nearly new!

3. Grab loss leaders

Every year retailers such as Staples, Office Max and Office Depot offer up deals like notecards for a dime, pens for a penny and so on. They use these loss leaders in the hopes that you’ll end up grabbing everything else on your list while you’re there—but don’t give in to their plan! Instead, check the ads each week and circle those loss leaders at each store and grab just those items! Be sure to shop quickly, as many of these stores have a limited supply of these items, and rain checks are usually not available.

3. Shop your house

Chances are you probably already have a few of the items on your child’s supply list floating around your house somewhere. After all, most of us have a junk drawer filled with pens, highlighters and pencils—you just might have to dig through a pile of old toys to find them! Before you spend money on anything, spend a little time shopping your house first.

4. Stick to the list

Okay, sticking to the list is easier said than done, but by doing so you can save some serious bucks! The majority of items on school supply lists are simple and frill-free and include items such as one subject notebooks, number two pencils and plastic rulers. Don’t let the stores (or your kids!) up-sell you on items decorated with Spiderman or Hello Kitty, which can cost three times the price! If you don’t have a copy of your school’s list, don’t guess which items you need. Instead, check with the office supply stores in your town, as the majority of them keep these supply lists on file.

5. Shop tax-free

Let’s face it, no one likes paying taxes, so don’t! Many states offer tax-free holidays right before the start of the school year. Although these weekends don’t include everything (no, not that big screen TV that you’ve been eyeing!), they almost always include school supplies, clothing, accessories and other back-to-school necessities. To see if your state participates and to get all of the details, check out Taxware’s comprehensive list or visit your state’s official website.

6. Save your receipts

So you saw notebooks on sale for $1.00 and decided to stock up only to see them advertised the following week for 50 cents! As frustrating as this scenario is, there’s no need to get upset! If you purchased an item and the price of that item drops, most stores will give you a price adjustment as long as your item was purchased within the last 7 days (although some go up to 14 days). Some of the stores that offer price adjustments include Kohl’s, Old Navy, Kmart, The Children’s Place and Staples.

7. Follow your favorite stores

Without a doubt, social media has changed the way that consumers shop, as well as the way that retailers promote their merchandise. These days nearly every store uses Facebook and Twitter to alert customers to hot promos and deals, as well as to offer exclusive fan-only coupons. In the past, stores like Office Max, Target and Old Navy have all offered exclusive coupons on social media sites. This back-to-school season, be sure to follow all of your favorite stores on FB and Twitter—you never know what they might post!

8. Trade-in old clothes for new

Clothing can be one of the most expensive aspects of back-to-school shopping, so why not make a little cash to use towards those new duds? Have your child sort through their closet and pull out the items that they no longer want. Bag those items up and head over to Plato’s Closet, Buffalo Exchange, or a local resale shop and turn in last year’s wardrobe to help pay for this year’s! Prefer to do it from home? Create an account on ThredUp and sell (and buy) without leaving your house!

8 Tips to Save on Back-to-School Shopping