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How to Save Money When Back to School Shopping

Posted on August 28, 2019

young kid walking away wearing a red backpackThe back to school season is in full swing, and whether you are full of joy, filled with sadness, or a bittersweet combination, it is happening. Whether it’s your kids first year at school or their 11th year, you likely need to do some shopping to make sure they are prepared for school.

Back to school shopping can get very expensive, especially if you have multiple kids in school. New clothes, supplies, a fresh backpack, and everything else a kid needs to succeed costs a pretty penny. The average cost this year is estimated to be $696, with that cost rising every year. To help save you money, we’ve gathered a few great ways to protect your wallet.

Re-Use Anything and Everything You Can


While stores want you to replace every aspect of your child’s back to school supplies, you really don’t need to. As long as it isn’t completely worn out or broken, many supplies can be used for several years. For example, your child will likely need scissors or colored pencils every year, and the ones they used last year will still work just fine. Depending on what is being reused, you can save a couple of bucks or hundreds of dollars.

If you have multiple kids in school and they all want “different” supplies like a backpack or lunchbox, encourage them to trade rather than having to buy new stuff. This could mean rather than buying all new supplies every year, you could at least go two years before buying these larger and more expensive items.

Buy Next Year’s Supplies On Clearance


two young girls coloring in a classroomIf you have the space for it in your home, buying next year’s back to school supplies on clearance once this year’s shopping season is over is a great way to save money. This can lead to great deals, like 80% off on supplies, because most stores are trying to clear out space for Halloween and holiday merchandise.

Especially if you can snag the more expensive items on clearance, this can mean huge savings for your budget. Then you put it in your closet and when next year rolls around, do it again.

It might be smart though when purchasing supplies a year in advance to try and avoid the “trendy” items that likely won’t be popular next year. This could include new TV shows or video games that will be old news next year.

Avoid Buying Pop Culture Products


While your kid might be immediately drawn to the Hello Kitty pencil box or the Fortnite backpack, try your best to discourage them from buying these pop culture products. They usually cost a lot more and are often made of a much lower quality. For the same price, you can get supplies that will last for years, or for much cheaper, something that is just as good.

There are other ways for your child to show off their individuality. Stickers can go on pencil cases and lunch boxes, key chains and patches can go on backpacks, or you could even get a little crafty with their supplies and decorate it yourself.

Buying Electronics For Cheap


young woman smiling, wearing headphones and holding a phoneElectronics are becoming more and more commonplace in schools. Depending on the type of school and what grade your kid is entering, you might have quite a few devices and accessories you’ll need to buy. Some common electronics and accessories parents might have to buy include:

  • Tablet
  • Keyboard and mouse
  • Stylus
  • Laptop/Chromebook
  • Headphones
  • Carrying case
  • Screen and case protector

To save money on expensive electronics, look for used or refurbished electronics that still work. This can save hundreds of dollars on the more expensive items, and often work just fine. Look around on eBay, Craigslist, or even local Facebook selling pages. For refurbished models, check with local and online retailers.

You might also reach out to parents who had a kid just leave the class your kid is going into and see if they will sell you their old electronics for cheap. Especially if they are going from one school to another, they might not need to keep the old tech.

Buy Classroom Supplies in Bulk and Split Costs


tons of art supplies stored in metal cupsThis tip will require some planning ahead of time, but can lead to lots of people saving money. Most classrooms ask parents to purchase large amounts of supplies for the whole classroom to use, yet the supplies are often the same. Paper, Kleenex, glue sticks, color pencils, and more are all things classrooms commonly request.

If you are assigned a fairly common item, see if there is a way to buy it in bulk for a discounted price per item. Then, you can save it for next year and try to get the same assignment again. Or you can reach out to parents at different schools or classes with the same assignments and see if they want to split the cost with you.

Use Rewards Programs To Get Gift Cards


Many credit card rewards programs allow you to redeem points for gift cards or coupons to stores. Depending on how many points you’ve accumulated, this could be a few dollars off or take a huge chunk out of your back to school shopping. If you shop a lot at a specific store and have a credit card through them, you might be able to get special deals or coupons that can really help.

When going to redeem your points, try to select retailers that also have good deals on the supplies you need. That way, you get the most as possible for your free money.

If you are a Pioneer member with a debit or credit card, you've been accumluating points in our Rewards! program. Check out your Rewards! points and what you can redeem them for by logging into your myPioneer account and clicking on Additional Services and then PFCU Visa Rewards!

Get Money Back Through Your “WOW” Checking Account


With a Pioneer “WOW” Checking Account, you can earn ten dollars every month for normal online shopping. This is great if you are doing back to school shopping on Amazon! Spend at least ten dollars and we’ll deposit ten dollars back into your account.

Don’t have a “WOW” Checking Account? Open one today and you can start earning ten dollars every month by shopping on Amazon®, iTunes® or Google Play®.

Open a "WOW" Checking Acount!

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