This year’s school supply list finally hit your inbox (or mailbox), and among the washable markers and binders, all you can see is dollar signs.
School supply expenses can add up quickly, but there are plenty of ways to save money on back-to-school essentials. Follow these tips to keep costs down as your family gears up for the new school year.
1. Look through your current stash before you buy.
Notebooks with just a few pages of scribbles, binders from last year ready to be emptied, unused glue sticks—you may be surprised how many school supplies you already have on-hand. Enlist the kids to help sort through last year’s supplies and see how many items you can cross off your list before you head to the store.
Don’t forget to take advantage of hand-me-downs, too. Older kids may grow out of some items as their classes change, which means you can reuse that expensive graphing calculator for the next student in your family instead of splurging on a new one.
2. Clip those coupons.
These days, many retailers offer mobile apps with digital coupons, which makes it easier than ever to browse for deals and savings. Look through the apps or the newspaper ads before you go to the store to see which retailers are offering the best discounts.
You can also do your comparison shopping without leaving the house—you might find a better deal online for certain supplies, which could save you a trip to the store altogether.
3. Ask for price adjustments.
When it comes to big-ticket purchases like electronics or sports equipment, get to know different retailers’ policies on price matching and price adjusting.
If you find a better price on an item you’ve already purchased, some retailers will honor the lower price if you reach out to customer service within a certain amount of time. Retailers may also be willing to match a competitor’s price if you find the same item for less at another store.
4. Wait for clothing to go on sale.
Tempted to overhaul your kid’s wardrobe before the first day of school? Hold off just a little bit longer to take advantage of serious savings: Clothing typically goes on sale in September after school is already in session, according to Consumer Reports.