Back-to-School Money Saving Tips for Parents


For parents with kids enrolled in grades K-12, the back-to-school season can be a costly one. According to the National Retail Federation, families with school-age kids plan to spend an average of $674 on clothes, accessories, electronics and school supplies.

So while back-to-school spending is a great boon for retailers, it can be a great blow to the average family’s finances. The good news is that while you may not be able to avoid spending entirely, you can drastically cut down on your expenses without hurting your kid’s chances for a productive school year.

Check out these tips for saving on back-to-school spending this year.

Outlets and Clothing Deals

Whether you’re a parent who wants your kids to look stylish and fresh each fall, or you’re just trying to keep up with the wear and tear your kids put on their clothes, back-to-school shopping can be prohibitively expensive. Here’s how to cut down on apparel expenses.

  • Go Where the Deals Are: Outlets, Goodwill and cheaper clothing retailers allow your kids to find fashionable, quality clothing they’ll like at prices you’ll also be on board with. You’ll get better deals at retailers like these, and you’ll likely spend much less than you would at your average department store.
  • Back to School Swaps: A clothing swap is a great way to find new outfits for your kids without having to do any spending. Invite a few families over and ask them to bring extra kids’ clothing for the swap. Make sure to invite parents with the right mix of kids, so everyone can find clothes that fit their kids’ needs.
  • Shop Summer Deals: By the end of summer, the retailers focus on fall fashions while discounting summer clothes. But, odds are, your kids find a way to wear t-shirts and other summer fashions throughout the year (at least while indoors). This is your opportunity to save big on summer clothes that have year-round appeal. And if your kid has enough fall clothing to last, you can use the same tactic to save on cool-weather clothes later in the year.

 School Supplies

School supplies are the other big expense during back-to-school season. Cut back on your spending by following these tips.

  • Take Inventory: Whether the school sends a supplies list or you put it together yourself, you could be wasting money by taking that list straight to the store. Instead, raid last year’s backpacks and your supply drawers to knock items off the list. Odds are you already have some of the required items just waiting to be used for this school year.
  • Stick to the List: When you go back-to-school shopping, stick to the list. There’s a reason schools send home supplies lists; if you buy extra items, there’s a good chance they won’t be used. Cut back on wasted spending by sticking to the essentials.
  • Buy Basic Supplies in Bulk: Bulk supermarkets are a good source for basic supplies such as folders, pens and notepads. These items will always be a staple of school shopping lists, and you can get a year’s worth of supplies at a great price in one purchase.

You’ll probably have to break out the wallet to get your child (or children) back to school this fall. But there’s no reason you have to keep increasing your back-to-school spending year over year. Use these tips to cut back on school expenses and still set your kids up for a fun and academically productive school year.

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