(WSPA) – It’s time to go back to school!
This time it can be exciting and a little crazy, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. In this consumer exclusive, we look at the top seven ways to save money on back-to-school shopping.
Just when it seems like summer will last forever, parents like Danielle Smith are hit with reality, school is right around the corner and we have a lot of money to spend.
“I like to look for deals,” he said.
We also! So, let’s get to work.
NUMBER 7: SPLIT BULK OFFERS
Chances are you know several parents who have children the same age, so why not share the cost of some supplies with them?
Cora Woodward, 7, has already picked out her “back to school” dress, but when it comes to shopping for things like pencils and notebooks, her grandmother Kathy Woodward saves by splitting big.
“I do that with my grandchildren. A dozen of us buy things in bulk and put some here and some there,” Woodward said.
Just make sure you don’t buy more than you really need, or your savings will become a mess. To that end, if you prefer to shop online, make sure the options in your cart don’t favor bulk purchases if you don’t need them.
Retailers like Amazon may offer more “multi-item” selections that can be more expensive than picking up just one or two at the store.
NUMBER 6: PRICE TRACKING
Online tools like “Google Shopping” allow you to immediately compare the prices of any item and even set price limits for your search in the left column.
Just enter the Amazon URL for any item and you’ll get a graph showing the fluctuation in price over the last year.
“So, at a glance, you can tell if it’s the lowest it’s been, if it’s been lowest before, or when it’s been lowest before. It’s a really good way to anticipate if something is going to go on sale for back to school, for example, or even Black Friday or something like that,” said Julie Ramhold of Dealnews.
The site even compares Amazon’s price to third-party retailers, new and used.
NUMBER 5: LOYALTY PROGRAMS
Most stores have them, from Target to A Children’s Place to Kohls, where you earn 5% on every purchase. Being on the list means you also get emails about deals and coupons.
Some retailer incentives, such as Kohl’s cash, can be used in addition to the rewards program. It is important to read the fine print to know the best savings strategy.
“There really can be a savings strategy, especially when you look at this Kohls cash coupon because it has the dates that you can redeem, but also this 20% off coupon that is good for dates that overlap with the redemption of this Kohls Cash,” said John James, manager of Kohl’s in Greenville.
Store apps help you keep track of your rewards.
NUMBER 4: EDUCATIONAL DISCOUNT
All you have to do is verify your status online and your 15-20% discount will automatically be applied to qualifying purchases.
NUMBER THREE: CONSIGNMENT STORE
at greenville once upon a time there was a boyNot only can you buy well-maintained children’s clothing and shoes at 70% off retail price, but you can also sell children’s clothing that you don’t need.
“You can definitely get rid of things in your house, and you can use that to buy any items here, or you can just decide to take the money,” said Tameka Williams, a store employee.
Each item is checked for stains and tears, so you know it’s in excellent condition.
NUMBER TWO: MEET THE LIST
“So if you have children in 4 different schools, you can check out all four different school lists online at your convenience. Shop from your couch, pick up an order, order from the car or just have it delivered to your home,” said Allison Deshazo of Target.
NUMBER ONE: TAX-FREE VACATIONS
South Carolina’s tax holiday begins on Friday, August 5 and ends on Sunday, August 7.
You’ll save 6% sales tax on all applicable items. The list of tax-exempt items includes not only pencils and backpacks, but also many items you may not be aware of. here’s a full list.
ONE MORE TIP…
With two active (and smart) kids, Danielle Smith recommends avoiding overspending and not bringing the kids.
“They might see one thing they like and then in another hallway they see something else, so keep the kids home. You’ll save more money,” Smith said with a laugh.
Smart advice, from a mom who’s been there.
You can also take advantage of free supplies offered by many organizations throughout the Upstate.
United Way of Greenville is giving away free supplies on Saturday, August 6.
Joking around in Greenville has a complete list of where and when you can get the free supplies.