Around this time every year, department stores and bookstores become flooded with students and parents getting ready for the start of the school year. While computers, books, and other supplies can be quite expensive, they don’t necessarily have to burn a hole in your wallets. With the right information and tools, you can find great deals on most school-related items during this time of year.
One of the easiest ways to participate in back to school savings is during the tax-free holiday (usually early August.) Backpacks, classroom supplies, and even electronics are among many of the items that can be purchased tax-free during the weekend. Look for coupons in your mail to see which retailers are participating in tax-free back-to-school sales. Online purchases also qualify during tax-free weekend, even if the orders are set to arrive after the holiday.
Despite the fact that middle and high schools have a school supply list that they recommend as a guide, following the list too closely can lead to overspending. Take inventory of what you may have at home from prior years and cross those items off the list first. Things like highlighters, pencil cases, and backpacks don’t have to necessarily be replaced yearly.
If you’re in college, you’ll most likely be able to see the syllabus and supply list for each class prior to the start of the school year, but don’t rush to buy anything too soon. For example, find out what method you prefer for note-taking in each class– in a binder or spiral, laptop or loose-leaf paper. You may also want to wait until the start of classes to see if you’re really going to need everything on the supply list, including those pricey books that will be one of the most important and biggest expenses you’ll have.
If you’re willing to wait after classes start to get your books, you may be able to find out that certain books aren’t really necessary. Some professors are required to have books listed, but they may not end up using them that much throughout the semester. (Ask your professors, they’re usually very transparent about this.) Most professors will also cover everything in class, including test material. So you won’t need a book to study if you’ve been attending classes and taking good notes.
Additionally, you can ask friends that have taken the class before to see if they recommend getting a book or not. By asking around your friend group, you can also find out if they still own their book for that class and see if they’re willing to sell it to you at a reasonable price.
Another method to save money on textbooks would be to search for textbook exchange groups on social media platforms. It is common for universities to have Facebook groups where people can sell their used books at a heavily discounted price. Some bookstores and online retailers also offer used books in varying conditions at much lower prices. Websites like Chegg and Amazon may let you rent or buy books, but this option isn’t always cheaper in the long run. Textbooks might be listed for a few dollars less than the full price if you’re renting, but that may not be worth it because if you buy the book, you can just sell it at the start of the next semester. However, some people prefer renting so they don’t have to deal with the reselling process once classes end.
Going back to school can be a stressful process for both students and parents. However, back-to-school shopping doesn’t have to be a financial burden if you’re willing to dedicate a little extra time and effort.
By Maria Vasquez