According to the Rubicon Project Consumer Pulse survey, 56% of parents with school-age children plan to spend more than they did last year on back-to-school expenses. Parents with children in grades K-12 estimate they’ll spend $873 per student, and those with kids heading to college plan to spend over $1,100 per student! The shopping list seems to get longer — and more expensive — every year. 38% of parents expect to purchase technology products such as laptops, tablets, and mobile phones specifically to meet students’ in-class needs and requirements. This is in addition to the traditional school supplies, clothing, and other expenses.
So, how do students, parents, and even grandparents save money in 2015? Here are some new strategies and resources, as well as some favorites from past issues, designed to help ace the back-to-school shopping chore this year.
- Look for tax savings — Kiplinger highlights back-to-school sales tax holidays, beginning July Caution: Consumers should carefully consider the savings versus deeper discounts offered after the tax-free holiday sales. Also, not all school supplies and clothing are tax free. Know what’s covered in your state.
- Start with shopping apps — Start your shopping with these price-comparison apps, and keep in mind, these apps can save you money all year long:
- ShopSavvy (Android, iOS)
- Slickdeals (Android, iOS)
- RedLaser (Android, iOS)
- PriceGrabber (Android)
- Amazon (Android, iOS)
- ShopAdvisor (Android, iOS)
- Caution: Smoopa just shut down their operation, so don’t count on using them this year. Things change fast in the app world, so make sure your favorite shopping apps are updated and functioning properly.
- Shop and compare — Staples is offering a 110% lowest-price guarantee through September 19. Many online stores may offer better deals than in-store sales, as well as free shipping for back-to-school Be sure to compare before purchasing: Dollar General, Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, RetailMeNot, Target, Kmart, T.J.Maxx, Marshalls, and Big Lots.
- Computers — Whatever you buy could be outdated in a matter of months, so save money by purchasing last year’s model, a refurbished model, or by using student/education Here are some student discount programs: Lenovo Students, Dell University, HP Academy or Store, Toshiba Back to School, Apple Education Pricing or Refurbished Products, or Overstock.com.
- Software — Investigate academic licenses to save hundreds of dollars over retail when buying computer software for students. Check sites like OnTheHub, Student Discounts, Microsoft Student Savings, Academic Superstore, or JourneyEd.com.
- Textbooks — Rent textbooks at Alibris, Chegg, or CampusBookRentals, or use open source textbooks at sites like OER Commons, Merlot, OpenStax CNX, or Wikibooks. You can also buy and sell used books on Hacom, BookFinderl.com, and eCampus.com, and compare book prices at AllBookstores.com and BigWords.com.
- Rebates — To receive cash back and coupons from hundreds of online stores, try sites like Ebates and RebateGiant.
- Savvy clothes shopping — Shop now for deep discounts on end-of-season clothes. Saving an additional 50% off already reduced clothing is sure to stretch the clothing Also, shop for gently used clothes at resale stores like Plato’s Closet, Children’s Orchard, Moxie Jean, FlipSize, or Kids Sales. Then, buy one new fall outfit for school, and wait until the bigger sales begin to purchase more.
- More deals — Search for bargains for students at sites like StudentUniverse or StudentRate.
- Loss leaders — Most retailers will offer deals at below-cost prices on loss leader products to attract customers to their store over the next mo Money-Saving Tip: Only purchase items offered at deep discounts. Over the next few weeks, take advantage of multiple sales to purchase everything needed at rock-bottom pricing. Also, compare sale prices with the local dollar store.
- Commuting — Save money on gas, insurance, parking, and auto maintenance by using public transit, bikes, commuting programs with friends, or ride-shares. Students can also carpool with eRcom or Zimride.
- Wait! — To save both time and money, hold off purchasing costly items or anything other than basic tools until the teacher provides the list of Money-Saving Tip: Retailers offer significantly discounted clearance bins after school starts, which can be a good time to stock up for home or future use.
Watch for more ways to stretch your dollars on the students in your life in future issues.