(WSPA) – It is back to school time!
This time can be exciting and a little crazy, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. In this Consumer Exclusive, we look into the top seven ways to save money during back to school shopping.
Just when it feels like summer will last forever, parents like Danielle Smith are hit with reality, school is just around the corner and we got to drop some serious cash.
”I like to look for deals,” she said.
So do we! So, let’s get down to it.
NUMBER 7: SPLIT BULK DEALS
Chances are you know several parents who have kids the same age, so why not share the cost with them on some supplies?
7-year-old Cora Woodward 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 dividing up large quantities.
”I do that with my grandkids. A dozen of us all get things in bulks and put some here and some there,” Woodward said.
Just be sure not to buy more than you really need, or your savings will turn into clutter. To that end, if you prefer online shopping make sure the choices in your cart don’t favor bulk purchases if you don’t need them.
Retailers like Amazon may offer more “multiple item” selections that can be more costly than picking up just one or two in the store.
NUMBER 6: PRICE TRACKERS
Online tools like “Google Shopping” allow you to immediately compare prices on any item, and even set price limits for your search in the left-hand column.
Price analysts with Dealnews.com said if you shop a lot on Amazon use the site CamelCamelCamel.
Just enter the Amazon URL for any item and you get a graph that shows the fluctuation in price over the last year.
“So, you can tell kind of, at a glance, if it’s the lowest it’s been, if it’s been lower before or when it’s been lower before. It’s a really good way to anticipate if something is going to go on sale for back to school, for instance, or even for Black Friday or something like that,” Julie Ramhold with Dealnews said.
The site even compares the Amazon price against 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 sales and coupons.
Some retailer incentives, like Kohl’s cash, you can use on top of the rewards program. It is important to read the fine print to know the best strategy for saving.
“There can truly be a strategy for savings especially when you look at this Kohls cash coupon because you have the dates when you’re able to redeem, but also this 20% off coupon that is good for dates that overlap with the redemption of this Kohls cash,” John James, the manager of the Kohl’s in Greenville, said.
Store apps help you keep track of your rewards.
NUMBER 4: EDUCATION DISCOUNT
Stores like Target and Bed Bath and Beyond offer special discounts to college students and teachers.
All you have to do is verify your status online and your 15 to 20% discount will automatically apply to qualifying purchases.
NUMBER THREE: SHOP CONSIGNMENT
At Greenville’s Once Upon A Child, you cannot only buy gently used children’s clothing and shoes for 70% off the retail price, but you can also sell children’s clothes you don’t need.
“You can definitely get rid of stuff in your house, and you can use that to purchase any items in here, or you can just decide to take the money instead,” Tameka Williams, a store employee, said.
Every item is checked for stains and tears, so you know it’s in excellent condition.
NUMBER TWO: STICK TO THE LIST
Nowadays, you don’t even have to print the list. Walmart and Target have them all online.
“So, if you have kids in 4 different schools you can check out all four different school lists online at your convenience. Shop from your sofa, do an order pickup, a drive-up order or just have it shipped to your home,” Allison Deshazo with Target, said.
NUMBER ONE: TAX FREE HOLIDAY
The South Carolina tax holiday begins Friday, August 5, and goes through Sunday, August 7.
You’ll save the 6% sales tax on all items that apply. The tax-exempt list includes not just pencils and backpacks, but a lot of items you might not realize. Here is a full list.
ONE MORE TIP…
With two active (and smart) kids, Danielle Smith recommends avoiding overspending and don’t bring the kids.
“They might see one thing they like and then down another aisle they see something else, so leave the kids at home. You’ll save more money,” Smith said with a laugh.
Smart advice, from a mom who has been there.
You can also take advantage of the free supplies offered by many organizations throughout the Upstate.
United Way of Greenville is giving away free supplies Saturday, August 6.
Kidding Around Greenville has a full list of where and when you can get the free supplies.