10 Ways to Save Money For Back-to-College Season
By Nia Simone McLeod
As the carefree season of summer begins to wind down, back-to-school season emerges in full effect. Studies show that parents, on average, are spending $500 per child during back-to-school season. Those costs rise astronomically if one or more of your children are heading back to college. Glue sticks and crayons turn into tablets and textbooks. It can be hard to keep costs down when college life seems to ask for so much of your hard-earned dough. Fear not! I’ve got a couple of tips and tricks that you can utilize to keep costs down during the crazy back-to-school shopping season.
- Textbooks are a necessary evil of college, and they’re designed to burn a hole in your pocket. A year’s worth of textbooks can cost hundreds upon hundreds of dollars. Before you try to buy your child’s textbooks, be sure to check out resources like their college’s bookstore and online platforms like Chegg and Amazon. They offer a wide variety of textbooks to buy or rent. Also, 9 times out of 10, they’ll probably have that strangely specific textbook that’s on your child’s syllabus.
- Invest in a Quality Laptop: In the fast-paced life of college, your laptop is your lifeline. It often replaces the traditional supplies of notebooks and binders. Since this device is so essential to your child’s success, it’s a good idea to invest in a quality laptop that’ll withstand wear and tear. The cost may be steep up front, but it’s going to save you a ton of money in the future with its durability. Before you put your money where your mouth is, do some research online and in-store to find the perfect laptop for your child.
- Look at Home for Basic Supplies First: Before you head out to your local Walmart or Target, check out your office drawers. You may be surprised how many pens, pencils, and paper are just lying around. After you’ve done that, finalize a supply list that you can keep with you while you’re shopping.
- Create a Budget, and Stick to it: When you’re out and about in the heat of the back-to-school craze, it can be hard to remember that you’re trying to save money. So, before you head out, write down an overall amount that you’d like to spend on your child’s back-to-school experience. If you’d like to get more detailed, section it out by category (Clothing, Electronics, Dorm, etc.) and create a budget for each one. Bring it with you when you’re out shopping. So, when your kid is begging you for a brand new deluxe closet organizer for their dorm, you can look back on your budget and happily say, “no.”
- Utilize Online Shopping and Coupons: Take advantage of the ease that comes with online shopping. Whether you’re getting your favorite college student a bedding set or a pack of pencils, you can get it all online. Also, when you’re online, there are a ton of resources that you can use to save money easily while you’re scrolling away. Some of the best apps and browser extensions that’ll help you save money are Honey and RetailMeNot.
- While In-Store, Price Check: You’ve always got time to price check, despite how hectic back-to-school season may seem. This is definitely important if you’re contemplating buying your child a big-ticket item. Be sure to do your research and check other places online beforehand. Also, you don’t even have to do the researching yourself if you don’t want to. Just scan the barcode and apps like ShopSavvy will hunt through the internet to make sure that you’re getting the best deal. Most popular stores (Walmart, Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond, etc.) will price check so it’s definitely worth it to do the technological legwork.
- For Dorms/Apartments, Check out Thrift Stores and Yard Sales: Some of the big-ticket items you’re searching for will probably be for your child’s living space, whether that’s a dorm or an apartment. When it comes to furniture, thrift stores and yard sales are great places to search. You can often find quality pieces for a fraction of the price that you would find at a big department store. All they may need is a quick wipe down, and they’ll be good as new!
- Try DIY: When it comes to dorm decorating, DIY is a great way to capture your child’s style while keeping costs low. It can be easy to fall into an expensive trend or decor when shopping for their dorm or apartment. But, there’s often a ton of ways that you can accomplish that same style from the comfort of your own home using just a couple of cheap components. Search sites like YouTube and Pinterest to get inspired!
- Communicate With Your Child’s Roommate: Get in touch with your child’s roommate (and their parents) to work out who’s going to buy what for their living space. This’ll surely save you money since you won’t be pressured to buy everything. Also, isn’t it going to be awkward when they’re both trying to figure out where they’re going to put two mini fridges?
- For Clothing, Wait for End-of-Summer Sales: Since most colleges head back to school in mid-August, you may think that you’ve got to secure them a whole wardrobe before they head back. But, you should influence them to wait. Most end-of-summer sales usually start in September, and that’s when prices on clothing are going to dip down. To save money, it’s definitely better to wait until then before investing in your child’s brand new wardrobe. If they must get some new clothing to fully immerse in a new school year, try consignment shops like Uptown Cheapskate and Plato’s Closet. They deliver brand name clothes but at a drastically lower price point.
College is expensive. So, you know it’s always worth it to save money wherever you can save it. With the wonders of the internet at your disposal, there are a ton of resources that you can use to make sure you’re getting the best deals online and offline. Also, going secondhand can help you cut costs on some of the big-ticket items on your list. Keep these tips and tricks in mind while you’re out during the back-to-school season, and you’ll save yourself a ton of headaches (and dollars) in the future.