Grown-ups may dread back-to-school shopping just as much as their kids do. The cost of purchasing school supplies for kids in different grades with different requirements can add up quickly. So even teachers are looking for good deals to add more stores to their classrooms.
For parents and teachers looking to tame their back-to-school shopping bill, follow these hacks to help save money while stocking up.
Back-to-School Shopping Hacks
1. Earn Free Gift Cards
The best way to get free gift cards is by earning points on everyday purchases by downloading free shopping apps. Fetch is one app that allows users to download it free on Apple iOS and Android devices and earn points from eligible retail, grocery, and gas purchases.
All shoppers must do is upload or scan their receipts to receive points. Once points accumulate to meet the minimum amount, Fetch users can convert their points to gift cards to many popular retailers such as Walmart, Target, and Amazon, to name a few. App users can rack up points even faster by sharing a referral code with family and friends to get them to use the app.
Parents and teachers can save their points and redeem them for gift cards in time for back-to-school shopping.
2. Earn Cashback
Shoppers should use credit cards and cashback apps to start making money today. These apps offer a percentage of the purchase amount as cash or credit. Many shoppers use credit cards as their primary payment method, so cashback rewards can add up quickly when shoppers use a credit card to pay for everything.
Shoppers can also try to double up on the rewards using a free cashback app such as Rakuten and a credit card with a cashback option to earn even more from each purchase.
3. Compare Prices
Keep an eye out for paper and online flyers, sign up for alert notices via email, and there are price comparison apps. Buying everything from one store without knowing what prices are like elsewhere can be a big waste of money, especially for more oversized ticket items.
Parents should compare prices and even shop at stores willing to price match to help save money on back-to-school supplies.
4. Check for Discounts and Coupons
Other than tracking sales at stores, there are more ways to shop at discounted prices.
Free Apps and Websites
Apps such as Honey and CouponCabin search the web for the lowest price for products shoppers are looking for. They also provide discount codes for additional savings when available. These apps save shoppers time and money by completing price comparisons for them.
Buy Discounted Gift Cards
Some websites and stores sell gift cards at a discount. Make sure you purchase them from well-known sources. Costco and Target regularly sell their stores' gift cards for less than face value. Target also offers discounts for bulk gift card purchases.
Gift card reseller websites such as Raise and CardCash have already dealt with the gift card seller, so there is little risk involved with purchasing from websites like these.
Students, teachers, and seniors are just a few people who can show their identification to get discounts on purchases. Check out the available deals in-store and see if you can double up on the values by showing your identification card.
5. Check the Inventory at Home
Back-to-school shopping doesn't mean that everything must be brand new every year. Instead, it's worth going back to the previous year's supplies and seeing what items you can reuse for the new school year.
Then go through drawers, the kid's rooms, and anywhere else supplies might be lying around. Not only will reusing supplies already at home save money but going through the house to find things will also help organize and declutter your home.
6. Shop At Big Box Store Alternatives
Big box stores can have good sales but are the most cost-effective options. Check out the local dollar store. Most school supplies, especially for younger grades, can often be purchased at dollar stores. Generic names usually charge more for similar items.
Drug stores are another place to look for discount school supplies. Not many people realize that drug stores carry much more than personal care items. They often have good sales and should be on everybody's watch list when back-to-school shopping.
7. Shop Second-Hand
Back-to-school shopping isn't just limited to pencils and calculators. Kids often need new clothes to replace the ones they have damaged or outgrown, and trends and tastes also change.
Shopping second-hand at thrift shops, consignment stores, and online marketplaces is a great way to save money and buy clothing and other items at a fraction of the cost. Additionally, many used items for sale are still in excellent condition, with no way of knowing that the thing is second-hand.
Parents and teachers should plan by having a complete list of needs ready before the summer starts. Then if a sale happens, shoppers will be prepared to jump on a deal.
Back-to-school shopping hacks will help parents and teachers save money while fulfilling all their school shopping. From earning gift cards and discounts on everyday purchases, shopping second-hand, and price matching, there are many ways to save money.
Nadia is an M.B.A. graduate and freelance writer. She also likes to write about all aspects of mom life, co-authors the blog This Mom Is On Fire, and advocates for better dementia healthcare for seniors.