9 Ways to Save Money on Back-to-School Shopping

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Each year’s back-to-school shopping season is the second largest holiday season for retailers. This may be well short of the November and December rush, but it is larger than many of the other shopping holiday spending trends combined. More importantly, back-to-school spending is expected to rise in 2016. This makes ways to save money more important than ever.

24/7 Wall St. has provided 10 back-to-school savings tips that are specific to 2016. In a broader theme report from July, we even showed which of the major stores were offering back-to-school deals.

One key issue is that there are more than just a couple of ways to save on back-to-school spending, and this is focused more on the conventional retail effort rather than the online buying. After all, almost two-thirds of spending is expected to be in stores. Those mothers and fathers who are willing to do some homework and are willing to go to more than one store will of course have an opportunity to save the most.

Discount stores are expected to be the largest destination, but this can be aided by looking for mailed coupons and deals in newspapers, as well as online coupons and apps from individual stores. Clothing and shoes and electronics eat up the bulk of back-to-school retail dollars for most families. You can still spend endlessly on school supplies if you are not careful.

Before we get into specific savings tips, consider this: The National Retail Federation has projected that total spending will reach $75.8 billion in 2016. Its per-student spending forecast is $673.57, up from $630.36 in 2015. The Census Bureau puts the number of students in America at 77.2 million.

1. Know Your Discount Stores

According to the National Retail Federation, discount stores are still the top destinations for back-to-school sales. This may mean stores like T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, Dollar General, DollarTree and many more. If you can buy a polo shirt for $15 at a discounter, why pay $45 for the same shirt at the mall? The reality is that discount stores fluctuate wildly throughout America because so many are specific to a city or a region. This is where you probably will find your best deals, and almost all of them will have items are for sale that are priced locally — so be prepared to do some homework there.

2. Tax Holidays

Not all states have back-to-school tax holidays, but many do. They start in July and run in multiple periods in August. Credit.com showed that 17 states have tax holidays of some sort in 2016. Some other states may have tax holidays of their own, but you will see that these vary wildly from state to state.

3. Online Coupons and Daily Deals

Mail and newspapers may be the oldest way to discover savings, but many sites such as Coupons.com and Groupon have back-to-school savings; ditto for online price-comparison services. Amazon has become much more common for offering ways to save, but the number of back-to-school related items was sparse in July. There are many store apps and broader apps (too many to list) that offer daily deals and offer limited time coupons or savings. In most cases, you can even double-check that availability right in the store.