If you’ve been putting off back-to-school shopping, you’re not alone. According to a recent study released by the National Retail Federation, nearly half of families with school-aged kids have yet to purchase classroom essentials. As consumers, we’ve become accustomed to lengthy promotional periods and procrastinating may help you save more in the long run.
However, you don’t want to be stressed and make poor purchasing decisions to ensure your kids are prepared on their first day. Follow these tips for getting the most value out of late-season back-to-school shopping.
1. Shop Labor Day Sales.
Retailers promote extra sales during popular holiday weekends and Labor Day offers a great opportunity to stock up on clearance items with further price reductions. For instance, you can expect up to 70% off summer clothing like tank tops, shorts and sandals. Buy a size up to prepare for next spring and use these cheap finds as layering basics for the fall and winter. Also look for deals on basic supplies and backpacks as retailers are responding to news about procrastinating parents with extra savings!
2. Stock Up on Penny Deals.
Office suppliers like Staples and Office Depot promote penny deals throughout the back-to-school season, with 1-cent folders to 25-cent notebooks. Walmart also offers these deep discounts, so compare circulars online to figure out where to buy the various items on your shopping list then stock up for the year for cheap. You can also compare circulars on-the-go with the Retale app, which displays store circulars based on your zip code.
3. Seek Outlet Center Savings.
Outlet centers represent great resources for savings with the added advantage of knocking out most of your back-to-school shopping in one session. Review the mall map online to plan your shopping route, and look for special deals available on the center’s website. To avoid going over budget on discounted goods, determine a budget and bring that amount in cash. Once it’s gone, it’s gone, so you’ll know exactly how much money you have left to spend!
4. Splurge on Backpacks, Sneakers & Winter Coats.
Saving money is important, but there are some back-to-school items worthy of the splurge. Quality sneakers, winter boots and coats are worth the investment as they’ll hold up better over time. A sturdy backpack with plenty of back support and storage is a better buy than a cheap bag, especially when you opt for a classic design. Use tools like Coupon Sherpa to seek out savings on these splurges. For example, an eBags coupon code for 65% off back-to-school plus an extra 20% off select items is available through mid-September.
5. Save Gadget Buys for Black Friday.
If your child needs an upgrade to his or her laptop or desktop computer, it’s better to wait a few months for holiday sales to roll around. Historically, Black Friday weekend is the best time to snag top deals on gadgets including laptops, desktops and smartphones. If your child’s computer is running slow, consider defragmenting the hard drive to increase the speed and ease of use in the interim of upgrading.
6. Strengthen Savings with Gift Cards.
To increase your savings even further, shop with gift cards you purchase at a discount. You can buy them in bulk from Costco or Sam’s Club for up to 20% off, but websites like GiftCardGranny.com offer much more variety and inventory. For example, you can increase your savings at Macy’s by up to 15%, or bolster your discount from Dick’s Sporting Goods by up to 21%. Using discounted gift cards as currency is a truly savvy move, one that you should keep in mind for holiday shopping, too!
Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. As a sought-after media source, she has been featured among such top news outlets as Good Morning America, Today, CNN, Dr. OZ, New York Times, MONEY Magazine, Huffington Post, Forbes and many more. For more information, visit AndreaWoroch.com or follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.