Before you head out to back to school shopping, it's important to make sure you know exactly what you need.
We have some tips and tricks for parents to save money ahead of their children's return to the classroom.
Swap, Don't Shop: Do you need new stuff?
First, shop your closets and drawers to see what you have. The school year got cut short last year, so see if any clothes or shoes that were not worn much still fit. You might find you have enough items to get through the next few months.
Of course, kids grow quickly, so you might find yourself with many items hardly worn, but that don't fit. Swap instead of buy. You can do it with friends in your community or online.
"I love this site the Swoondle Society. You can either become a member for unlimited trades and you pay one annual free or you could pay per trade. It's a small amount, but basically, what they do is they send you a reusable bag, a shipping bag and you fill up it with whatever you kid doesn't fit into or maybe clothing that they just don't want to wear. And then they evaluate what you send. They give you credit for al the different items you send, regardless of the brand, nicer brands, you'll get more points per item. But anyway, you can then use your credit to get like-new clothing."
Also, check out Swap Me Sports for swapping sporting goods and join "buy nothing groups" on Facebook. Then make a list of what of clothes you need to buy new.
Check your closets: Swap with other families
I always recommend shopping your closets first. See if you have anything from last school year that still fits your students.
It's likely a lot of clothes and shoes didn't get much wear since students spend most of year doing remote learning. Many items may still fit. If you can make them work for a few months, then wait to go clothing shopping. You'll likely get a much better deal.
"We know the warm weather will kind of trickle into October," Andrea Woroch, a shopping expert, said. "So you don't have to feel rushed to buy a bunch of stuff right now – especially because fall clothing will go on sale in October."
You may find there are still a few items you child needs immediately. See if you can swap outgrown clothes with other families. Then, if you find you must buy something new, take advantage of the three-day Tax-Free Weekend that starts Friday for those clothes. This tip also applies to school supplies. You'll need some things right away, but stock up when the Labor Day Sales hit so you can get big discounts on items you'll need all year long or you know will be on next year's supply list.
Gift Cards: Getting the most out of your gift cards
Some of us have picky students that insist on picking out their own outfits. With Tax Free Weekend coming up, it can be even harder to help students get ready for their first day in the classroom.
If you don't know what that student wants or you live out of town and want to help, websites like giftcardgranny.com can give those looking to help the opportunity to build a customized gift card.
If you set this up early enough, a Visa or Mastercard can be shipped the next day. There are also opportunities to pay for E-gift cards which can be used at popular stores like Target, Kohl's or Walmart.
Gift cards are a good option because of how versatile they are. They can buy anything that may be needed for the first day of school.
Buy in Bulk: Subtitle here
When it comes to school shopping, every little bit helps. But, before you hit the stores for tax-free weekend, we're trying to help you stretch your dollars.
There are some back-to-school supplies your students likely need year after year. Consider buying those in bulk, especially if you have several students in your home you can split the supplies between. You'll get a better price for each unit on those purchases. Even if you have only one student, you still might want to buy in bulk. Smart shopping expert Andrea Woroch explains how to still make it a good deal for your pocketbook.
"If you only have one or two children, and it seems like you're buying a lot in excess, you don't need that many notebooks or folder or that huge stack of construction paper. Ask other families to go in on those bulk purchases and then split the cost."
A sneaky tip to get a better deal out of a bulk purchase -- offer to pay for the items using your rewards credit card. That way, you get the cashback, miles or points for the purchase. Have family and friends pay you back using cash or Venmo.