Summer is winding down and school is right around the corner which means so is back-to-school shopping! It’s fun for children because they get new school supplies, outfits, and to see all their friends again. For parents on the other hand, it can get expensive quickly! Maybe you have more than one child that is school-aged or one (or more!) that is approaching the age for needing a cell phone. Whatever your situation may be, below you will find ten tips on how to save money this school year and stay within your budget!
1. Operation Homefront’s Back-to-School Brigade: Operation Homefront partners with Dollar Tree to collect school supplies for military children as part of their Back-to-School Brigade. Dollar Tree stores collect supplies and then Operation Homefront volunteers gather and distribute them to military children during the back to school season in August and September. Check out the following link for more information and to find programs in your area: http://www.operationhomefront.net/custompage?Id=3260
2. Tax-Free Shopping Days: While not every state participates, several do and for a few days (conveniently around back-to-school time) these states offer a “sales tax holiday” where shoppers can buy selected items with no tax. It’s a great way to save money- up to 9.45% for some states! Check this link to see if your state takes a tax holiday: http://www.taxadmin.org/fta/rate/sales_holiday.html
3. Clothing and Accessories: Kids grow fast and at times it seems like their school clothing doesn’t fit long enough for the whole school year! Many popular stores across the country offer military discounts including Old Navy, Banana Republic, Buckle, Claires, eBags, and more. Plus, don’t be afraid to ask when you are shopping if the store you are in offers military discounts. Also, if your child wears glasses, glassesUSA.com offers discounts up to 60% off all frames, plus other discounts.
4. Shoes: Feet grow as fast as everything else and styles change as quickly as the seasons. Make sure your child’s outfit is complete with new shoes. There is no better place to find military discounts for shoes than Payless, Nike, Steve Madden, Stride Rite, and Rack Room Shoes.
5. Classroom Supplies: Sometimes the list of what is needed in school seems endless; folders, crayons, glue, index cards, paper…the list goes on! Find great discounts for supplies at stores like CVS, Michaels, Jo-Ann Fabric, and more.
6. Backpacks and Lunch Bags: You can find great deals on backpacks and lunch bags at many of the stores already mentioned, but Pottery Barn Kids also has a great line plus offers a 10% off military discount for in-store purchases.
7. Tutoring and Test Preparation: Does your child need a little extra help with homework and studying? Tutor.com offers free tutoring for military families 24/7. Do you have older kids getting ready for college testing? eKnowledge donates their SAT and ACT College Test Preparation Programs to service members and their families. You pay only a minimal price per standard program to cover the cost of materials, processing, distribution and customer service.
8. Computers and Electronics: As children get older, their school needs can get more expensive. Computers, tablets, and other electronics are becoming more and more useful and common for students in school. Luckily, stores like Dell and Radio Shack offer great discounts to military families.
9. Wireless Communication: Verizon, Boost Mobile, Sprint, T-Mobile, ntelos Wireless, AT&T Wireless, and US Cellular all offer discounts to military families and some even offer discounts on new devices and accessories. Additionally, Defense Mobile offers mobile phone service at a price the military community deserves on the nation‚Äôs largest and most trusted networks. Check out Defense Mobile here: https://www.defensemobile.com/
10. Exchange Price Match Policy: Don‚Äôt forget that the¬†Navy Exchange (NEX),¬†the Marine Corps Exchange (MCX) and the Army and Air Force Exchange (AAFES) all offer price matching. That means if you see a lower price for the same item at another store, bring proof to the Exchange and you can buy that item for the competitor‚Äôs price!
Please feel free to leave additional tips for back-to-school money saving below in the Comment Box! The more tips for staying in budget the better!