7 Ways to Save on Back to School Shopping

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by on August 9, 2010

Thanks to Rebeca at Average Parent for these great ways to save on Back to School Shopping!

book stack If you’re anything like me, you probably hate paying full price for anything. But, let’s face it, most of us live busy lives and don’t have the time (or inclination) to run all over town searching for the best deals. So, before you start shopping for back-to-school clothes, check out some tips I’ve put together to slash the cost of this year’s purchases.

1. Take Inventory – Before you start shopping, take inventory of your child’s closet. Determine what can stay, what needs to go and what new items need to be purchased. Then consider what you can get for the castoffs. Here are a few ideas:

Host a clothing swap with other families and sit back while your child finds new wardrobe staples without emptying your bank account. Or, head online to swap with virtual friends through ThredUP.

Exchange those lightly-worn clothes, shoes and bags for store credit or cash from resale stores like Once Upon a Child and Plato’s Closet.

2. Slow and Steady Wins the Race – There’s no rule that says you have to purchase a year’s worth of clothing in one weekend. Most schools start in August or early September when the weather is still warm enough for short sleeves. Take advantage of the back-to-school sales to stock up on end of the season basics at low prices and wait for the Columbus Day sales to start looking for winter pieces. You can always bridge the gap by layering short-sleeve shirts with a long-sleeve t-shirt or a sweater for extra warmth.

3. Hit up the Discount Retailers – When designers sell their merchandise to department stores and boutiques, there’s usually some left over. That’s where the frugal shopper can cash in. By hitting up overstock retailers such as Ross, Marshalls, TJMaxx and Stein Mart, you can find great designer brands for a fraction of the price. However, keep in mind that discount retailers take some time to sort through. If you dread picking through racks, try hitting them up for shoes, bags and accessories, which are a little easier to sort through.

4. Save with Gift Cards – Purchase gift cards for as much as 30% off from websites like CardPool, and pair them with a coupon for additional savings. Also, many grocery stores sell gift cards, while offering extra fuel savings through their loyalty programs. Check to see if yours has a perks program and stock up on your next food run.

5. Coupons, Coupons, Coupons – Before you shop, check RetailMeNot.com or Ebates for printable coupons and online discount codes. You can also use e-clubs to get coupons sent straight to your inbox, and many retailers will send a coupon just for signing up. Note: I recommend setting up a separate email account for e-clubs and online shopping…that way your primary email won’t get flooded with advertisements and potential SPAM.

6. Get Cash Back – Sites like ShopatHome and Ebates allow you to earn 1-30% cash back for your internet purchases, while MyPoints rewards you with points that you can cash in for gift cards for nearly 100 different stores and restaurants. Membership is completely FREE and you’ll usually get a bonus for signing up.

7. Join a Rewards Program – If you have a favorite retailer, inquire about a rewards program that will give you store credit for spending a specific amount in their stores. I like to use JCP Rewards from Penney’s, but you might get more from another store…especially if you plan to drop a couple hundred dollars.

Rebeca’s family includes a lovable but hyper-active toddler, an obsessive compulsive husband and a spirited beagle who all keep her on her toes. In addition to caring for them full time, she works as a public relations pro and is the founder of the parenting website The Average Parent –a site for everyday moms and dads seeking practical information and money-saving tips they can put to use.


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