Here are 10 tips from savings experts on how to snag deals for back-to-school 2022.
1. Download cash-back apps
“Things like Ibotta, Checkout 51 and Rakuten are all apps worthy of your phone’s precious real estate,” said consumer analyst Julie Ramhold with dealnews.com, a shopping comparison website.
These apps can be used both in-store and online to get cash back on certain purchases, she said. “You can earn cash back on everything from groceries for back to school lunches to gas for driving around to different stores to get the best prices and of course on supplies themselves whether that’s a new wardrobe or backpack or just brand-new supplies to kick off the school year,” she added.
Individually, it may not seem like much — but together, these savings will add up, she said.
2. Download traditional store apps, too
Along with specialty apps like the aforementioned, many retailers offer apps with exclusive savings.
“So many stores offer extra discounts/coupons by just having their app — so download it,” Kassandra Vargas, a senior in college and lifestyle blogger with 44,000 TikTok followers and counting with whom she shares “Deals of the Day.”
“For example, Bed Bath & Beyond has a college pass where you can save 20% off your entire purchase every time you make a purchase and use that pass on your app. This is a perfect way to save on college essentials this year.”
3. Sign up for promotional email lists
Vargas notes that she is glued to her emails to try to find the best sales.
“I suggest creating a separate email address if you don’t like your personal email being spammed with those emails.”
“Those emails are definitely worth getting because you get access to early deals and even personalized discount codes.”
4. Buy used
“Consignment stores, thrift stores and secondhand sites (like ThredUp and Poshmark) are a great way to get like-new items for a fraction of the price,” said Trae Bodge, smart shopping expert at truetrae.com.
“This works really well for younger kids especially because they don’t tend to be as particular as teens.”
“Along those lines, consider buying musical instruments and sports equipment (as long as it’s safe) used,” Bodge suggested. “You can also sell gently-used items and make some cash!”
5. Look through what you already have
It can take some time, but your credit card statement may thank you.
Go through last year’s school supplies and see what is salvageable and have your kids try on all their school clothes.
Then, based on what you have vs. what you need, create a list. This will help you avoid buying things you don’t need.
You may even find you have more of a certain item (say, notebooks or highlighters) than you initially thought — and be able to donate extra to a local drive for school supplies.
6. Use coupon sites
Apps aren’t the only way to keep green in your wallet.
Sites like couponcabin.com will have lots of back-to-school offers, many of which can be combined with existing retailer sales.
For example, if you are buying something on forever21.com, you can get 8.25% cashback in addition to any sale that Forever21 is having. You can get 4% cashback at Bloomingdale’s, and so on.
CouponCabin.com also has “a browser extension that, once installed, will automatically alert you to these sales, and run coupons for you at checkout on a retailer’s site.”
Another option is capitaloneshopping.com’s free browser extension, which automatically applies coupon codes while you search the internet.
You can use coupon sites to set deal alerts “on specific items you may need, like a scientific calculator or laptop.
Try slickdeals.net for this feature — and once you’ve entered the name of the item, you’ll receive an alert when it goes on sale.
7. Take advantage of college programs
If you’re a student like Vargas, she suggests enrolling in programs that offer college discounts.
There are so many sites like Prime Student, Unidays, Student Beams, Student Universe and so many more that offer discounts to students.
“With Prime Student, I’ve even rented some textbooks for the semester for as low as $10.
8. Shop on sales tax holidays
Sales tax holidays, which vary from state to state, are another great way to cut the cost of many back-to-school expenses.
You may even want to schedule a reminder email to yourself so you don’t forget to grab your reusable shopping bags and hit the store aisles near you.
9. Host a back-to-school swap
A fun way to save money is to invite other families to a back-to-school swap.
Everyone brings items, such as outgrown clothes, backpacks and unused supplies they don’t need anymore but might be exactly what someone else is looking for.
Sharing larger orders with another family or group is an excellent way to save on back-to-school supplies.
Bulk orders of paper, pencils, notebooks, and other needed supplies make each item cost you less.
10. Shop during back-to-school season
For some shopping needs, you may be able to postpone purchases until the semester is in full swing.
“When you’re in college, you realize that some supplies aren’t always an urgent need. So, just wait,” advised Vargas.
“Toward the second week of September, you see all the school supplies go from regular price to up to 75% off [their] suggested retail.”
“It may seem like you have to get everything on your supply list during back to school season, but the truth is there are some items you can wait until later to buy and potentially save more,” echoed Ramhold, who cited backpacks and lunchboxes as two examples of products you likely won’t see big discounts on during the initial back-to-school sales.
If you wait until after Labor Day, retailers will be trying to clear out the remnants of back-to-school items, so you could see much bigger discounts on these kinds of products then.
By then, “discounts are up because demand is down.”