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11 Back to School Shopping Mistakes To Avoid

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It's that time of year again – the kids are going back to school! And that means it's time for parents to start shopping for supplies. Of course, like most parents, you want the best deals on everything. But be careful – some mistakes can easily be made when shopping for back-to-school supplies.

Girl with her father on her way to school.

This blog post will discuss eleven common mistakes people make when shopping for back-to-school items. Avoid these mistakes, and you'll be able to save money while still getting everything your kids need!

Below are our top 11 back-to-school shopping mistakes to avoid:

Mistake #1: Don't Have a Budget Set

Just like any other expense, you have to have a budget. According to a recent poll, the average parent spends about $864 on school supplies, $168 more than in 2019. However, this number will vary depending on the number of kids you have and their grade levels.

Regardless, it's essential to sit down and figure out how much money you're willing to spend before heading to the store. This will help you avoid overspending and buyer's remorse later on.

Mistake #2: Don't have a list

You know what they say, “fail to plan, plan to fail.” The same goes for back-to-school shopping. Without a list, you're likely to forget something essential or buy items your child doesn't need.

To make things easier, ask your child's teacher for a list of supplies they'll need for the upcoming year. Check your child's school website or wait until the district sends a letter with the items your child will need for the upcoming year.

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Mistake #3: Not Checking for Sales or Coupons

One of the biggest mistakes people make when shopping for anything is not checking for sales or coupons. Always check online and in your local store circulars for any sales or coupons that could save money on your back-to-school shopping. Many stores have great sales leading up to the first day of school, so take advantage of them!

Mistake #4: Confusing Needs with Wants

It's easy to get caught up in all the “cute” and “cool” school supplies that are out there. But it's important to remember that not all those items are needed. So before buying anything, ask yourself if it's something your child truly needs or if it's just something they want.

Go back to mistake #2 and check the school list twice to ensure you're not buying anything unnecessary.

Mistake #5: Do You Need It All?

How much stuff is enough? Do you really need to spend money on clothing for the year? How many packs of pens and pencils do you need?

You don't need to go overboard and buy everything in one shot. Instead, start with the basics and see how things progress throughout the year. You can always buy more later if you need to.

Just because it's on sale or you have a coupon doesn't mean you need to buy it.

School supplies in shopping cart.

Mistake #6: Quality Over Quantity

Many people focus on getting the best deals regarding back-to-school shopping. And while it's important to save money where you can, don't sacrifice quality for quantity.

For example, buying the cheapest backpack might save you a few dollars now, but it probably won't last the entire school year. And you'll end up spending more money in the long run if you have to replace it every few months.

The same goes for other items like clothes, shoes, and school supplies. Again, it's better to spend a little more money on something that will last than to have to replace it every few months.

Mistake #6: Is it a deal?

Just because it's on sale or you have a coupon doesn't mean you need to buy it. If your child doesn't need it or you can't find a use for it, it's not a deal.

And sometimes, to get a good deal, you must spend a certain amount. This is when it gets tricky, is spending that amount on getting certain supplies worth the effort?

Can you purchase the same thing for less? For example, if you buy two-sided folders for 25ยข each, is it a better deal than spending $5 on regular-priced merchandise to get the folders for 5ยข each (sometimes with a limit of purchase)?

This is where you need to be a savvy shopper and learn when it's a deal that will save you money. Buying more to get the deal is not saving you money. So please be careful when you come across deals like this. Buy what you need.

Mistake #7: Are You Buying to Impress Others?

One mistake many people make is buying things to impress others. Whether it's the latest and greatest fashion trend or the newest and most popular school supplies, people often spend money on things they don't need to keep up with the Joneses.

If you find yourself doing this, ask yourself if you really need the item or are just buying it to impress others. Then, put the item back and save your money if it's the latter.

Mistake #8: Not Taking Advantage of Reward Programs

Reward programs are a great way to save money. What are reward programs? Many stores and companies offer them and usually require you to sign up for an account. Once you have an account, you'll earn points every time you make a purchase. You can then redeem these points for discounts or free items.

You can also add digital coupons to your account and use them when you check out. This is a great way to save even more money!

Most people are familiar with store loyalty programs, but there are also many other types of reward programs that can save you money on back-to-school shopping.

For example, many credit cards offer rewards points that you can redeem for cash back or gift cards. And some companies provide employee discount programs that can save you money on back-to-school shopping.

If you're not taking advantage of reward programs, you're missing out on easy ways to save money.

Mistake #9: Avoid Shopping at the Last Minute

Another mistake to avoid is shopping at the last minute. This can lead to overspending and impulse purchases you may not need.

Start your back-to-school shopping early, so you have time to comparison shop and find the best deals. This will help you avoid the stress of last-minute shopping and help you save money.

Another critical factor is that you won't run into stores running out of items because everyone is looking for the same thing. Unfortunately, this often happens with popular items, and you may end up paying more because you have to buy them from a third-party seller.

Mistake #10: Not Checking for Sales Tax Holidays

Many states offer sales tax holidays, which can save money on back-to-school shopping. These holidays usually last a few days and allow you to purchase specific items without paying sales tax.

Before starting your back-to-school shopping, check to see if your state offers a sales tax holiday. If so, take advantage of it and save yourself some money.

Little girl in front of school supply aisle.

Mistake #11: Avoid buying back-to-school supplies too early

The last mistake to avoid is buying back-to-school supplies too early. Many stores start putting out back-to-school items months in advance, but you shouldn't purchase them until you know what your child needs.

Wait until you have your child's list of supplies before you start shopping. This will help you avoid buying things your child doesn't need and save you money in the long run.

Bonus Mistake #12: Buying everything at once

I mentioned 11, but mistake number 12 would be buying everything at once. You will likely find better deals if you space out your purchases. For example, buy notebooks and pencils one week, and then buy clothes the next. This way, you can take advantage of sales and coupons and stretch your money further.

Also, no rule states that you must buy every article of clothing at once or buy a brand new backpack and lunchbox. If your child's backpack from last year is still in good condition, don't replace it!

We hope you find this blog post helpful and avoid making these back-to-school shopping mistakes. Do you have any other tips to add? Please share them with us in the comments below!

Happy shopping! ๐Ÿ™‚

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41 Comments

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  3. Great tips! I especially love the tip about quality of quantity. I’m a big fan of Crayola after a few bad experiences with Dollar Tree crayons. They are totally worth the extra money!

    1. I agree with you 100% Crayola simply are the best when compared to other brands and the price they are dropped during this BTS season is a plus.

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  6. Having children is an expensive exercise so I’m sure parents will appreciate these money saving tips for sending them back to school. Thanks for sharing with us at #AnythingGoes

    1. Thank you! Depending on the school the school requirement it can be really costly to a lot of families.

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  25. These are great tips! I combined the tax free weekend with coupons, rebates, and Cartweel deals. I saved $50 this year!

    1. Becky I want Tax Free weekend back in PA! We used to have them many years ago. Of course we don’t have taxes on clothing and food so they decided to remove it. ๐Ÿ™

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  30. I don’t even have kids, so I don’t really know why I’m here lol. But these are still really good tips that I should pass along to my sister who does have kids. I think we’re lucky because we work at a company that sells pretty much everything you need for school and we can get a 40% discount on it. I’m thinking when I have kids in school I might just buy from work haha

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