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Posted: 10:48 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013

13 Cheap Back To School Shopping Tips

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By Crystal Collins, Contributor

ClarkHoward.com


It seems like only yesterday we were leaving all thoughts of school behind, turning on the summer tunes and hitting the beach. Where did the time go? Now I need to get the kids ready for heading back to school!?!?

Yep, it’s that time again! Time to hit the books, figure out the soccer routine and pack up the kids’ lunches every day. And since Back to School Season is finally here, that means retailers are clamoring for you to head into their stores to buy all of your necessities.

School supplies are outrageously discounted, and you should to be snatching up these bargains before the deals are done for the year!

Check out these 13 ways to save money on all your back to school supplies


1.  Plan out your list.  Goes without saying right? Take that list of supplies that you received from the school and use that to plan out your shopping strategy.

2.  Peruse your ads for the best deals before heading to the store. Having that plan in place means less impulse spending. Making your shopping list based off of the sales means you’ll really be leaving with the best deals.

3.  Price-match deals at stores like Wal-mart and Target in order to save time. Hit one store with all the sales flyers, and you're out of the store in under an hour. Click here to read about Walmart's new change when it comes to price-matching Walmart.com.

4.  Use a coupon code and/or a cash back site if you shop online.  Sites like Savings.com can help you find the best coupon codes and sales online.

5.  Shop the clearance racks or local thrift shops for this season’s clothing.  Full-price for clothing that the kids will grow out of in 5 minutes? No thanks!

6.  Use coupons in-store whenever possible. Some stores offer coupons in their sales flyers or on their websites. You can also find coupons for products on sites like Coupons.com.

7.  Buy enough supplies to last the entire year. Don’t just get what you need for the next couple of months. These rockin’ back to school specials only come around once a year, so plan to have enough to last you until next year.

8.  Check Craigslist.org for gently used items if you’re looking for dorm room supplies. Like new coffee pot for $5? Sure, I’ll take it! ‘Cause we know college students need that coffee!

9. Keep your receipts. A lot of stores will allow you to bring your receipt back for reimbursement if a price drops after you’ve purchased an item. This is a nice guarantee if you’ve been hesitating to make a big purchase. Don’t stress, keep that receipt, and watch the prices in the coming weeks.

10. Only shop the loss leaders if possible. Loss leaders are the items so heavily discounted that their main purpose is to draw a crowd into the store. If you can get those crayons for .05 a box, that’s what you should probably purchase.

11.  Stock up on the really good discounts. .05 crayons? Oh yeah! Time to stock-up on those for the entire year, and even have some on hand for holiday gift-giving or the kids’ birthday parties.

12. If necessary, spend some extra cash on brand names if you need better quality. If you’ve saved a ridiculous amount of money using all of these other tips, but want to purchase a good quality backpack that will last through four-years of wear and tear from a high-schooler, then go for it! Sometimes spending a little more now means saving money long-term.

13.  Dive into meal planning to save money on school lunches and other meals. Having a plan is very important when it comes to saving money. If you can plan out lunches ahead of time, you can definitely save some money. Start like this: Make a list of your child’s 15 favorite lunch ideas, make each one twice a month and rotate them all on the calendar.  You’ll have 30 meals all planned out that you know you can make easily, and there’s less confusion on what to buy when you hit the grocery store.

With just a few smart shopping strategies, you’ll be well on your way to outsmarting the marketers and keeping more of your hard-earned cash in your pocket.

You all are smart and savvy shoppers – what are some of the tips you have for saving on school supplies during the back to school shopping season?

Crystal Collins, a Savings.com DealPro, is an Atlanta local, adventurer, a health advocate and thrifty as can be. Check her out on her blog at  NaturalThrifty.com.

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