12 Super Smart Back-to-School Shopping Tips to Save Money

Mother and son shopping for clothesThe kids are gearing up to head back to school, and it’s your chance to get an A+ in saving money. These parent-approved shopping tips can help you save money on everything your blossoming scholar needs to succeed, from fresh clothes to new school supplies and electronics. Before you start shopping, these are the money-saving tips you need to know.

1. Sign up for social and email alerts.
Retailers are constantly announcing blowout sales and special promotions in social media posts and email blasts. Subscribe to your favorite clothing and office supply stores online and “Follow” their social accounts to be the first to know when it’s time to save. Start this back-to-school savings tip by signing up to get Rent-A-Center’s latest deals in your inbox.
2. Take advantage of clothing sales and buy ahead.
Is your favorite children’s clothing store having a ridiculous fall sale? Make the most of it! Instead of only buying clothes your child can wear this school year, buy a variety of larger sizes as well. After all, who knows if the deals will be this good three sizes from now.
3. Check out consignment shops.
It can take a bit of effort to find the real gems at thrift stores, but this is an easy way to save big on kids’ clothing, backpacks, and accessories. Plus, since kids grow so fast, you’ll often find brand new or barely worn items at a mere fraction of the original cost.
4. Hold off on major clothing purchases until September.
Everyone wants to get their back-to-school shopping done before the first school bell rings, but it pays to be patient. According to Consumer Reports, retailers often discount their fall clothing in September, once the big back-to-school rush is over.
5. Go the rent-to-own route to avoid huge upfront costs on electronics.
Purchasing a new desktop computer for the school year can pretty much wipe out your back-to-school budget, leaving no cash for the other inevitable necessities. Consider a rent-to-own computer from Rent-A-Center, instead. Pick the computer, select your payment plan, and get your student ready for success. It really is that easy.
6. Buy school supplies over tax-free weekend.
Many states hold sales tax holidays when you can purchase things like school supplies and electronics tax-free. Find out if your state participates, the items included, and the 2019 dates at TaxAdmin.org.
7. Take inventory of everything you already own.
Before you head to the store with your child’s school supply list in hand, dive into your closets and junk drawers. You might be surprised how many items on the list you already own! There’s no need to buy a new binder or set of folders if there are perfectly good ones from last year still sitting in your child’s backpack. Head to the store only when you’re sure of the things you truly need.
8. Think outside “the list.”
Back-to-school season is a time of transition. Just like your little Einstein may have outgrown last year’s jeans and sneakers, they may have also outgrown their bedroom furniture. Put the school supplies list down for a moment. This time of year is perfect for saving money on more than pencils and erasers. Your elementary-schooler might be ready for a twin bunk, or your tween could be begging for a full-size bed. Help your child make a smooth transition into a new school year with bedroom furniture that fits their needs.
9. Label everything.
One of the best ways to save money on school supplies is by taking great care of the items you already have. Of course, with a young child that can be easier said than done. Increase the odds that misplaced or forgotten items make it home by labeling everything—old and new—clearly with your child’s full name.
10. Use reusable containers for school snacks and lunches.
Paper and plastic bags, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and other single-use, disposable packaging might seem like an easy option, but your money will end up next to them in the garbage can. Instead, purchase a few reusable bags, containers, and pouches for school lunches and snacks. You’ll save money over time, and help save the planet! That’s a win-win in our book.
11. Avoid pre-packaged snacks. Take the DIY route.
Single-serving snack packages will almost always cost more than one big package. Instead of buying individual bags of carrots or chips, buy items in bulk and divvy them up into your reusable bags or containers. It may take a bit more effort, but it’ll save you major cash.
12. Buy generic brands.
Comparison shopping is your best friend when you’re at the grocery store or any other big box store. Skip over the names you hear in TV commercials and instead buy the store brand or a generic brand. These items will generally cost much less—and they’re just as good!

Now, this last back-to-school shopping tip might be true when you’re buying groceries or clothes, but there’s one place where the best brands won’t cost you more—at your local Rent-A-Center. We offer appliances, furniture, electronics, computers, and smartphones from the biggest brands you know and love. And you don’t need a credit card or great credit score to bring any of them home. Back-to-school saving is always in season at Rent-A-Center!