Shop Spring Sales for Fall Back to School

Even though the first blooms of spring don’t remind you of back to school shopping, there’s no better time to get it done. After all, if you’re a bargain shopper, planning ahead is a key ingredient in your savings soufflet.

According to the National Retail Federation the average American family spends $548.72 on back to school merchandise. That’s why the best recipe for back to school shopping is to get started with bargain sales in the spring and summer months. Here are some tips to get your family ready for their school days way before the first autumn bell tolls.

Tip One: Make a List

Having a detailed shopping list may make the difference between saving money and going on a spending spree. According to a study by The NPD Group, people who shop with a list are less prone to engage in expensive impulse purchases.

Even though you haven’t received a supply list from your child’s teacher, you can make a list of back to school needs for September. Check out for a sample.

To make it easier, divide your list into three categories: consumables, clothing, and catch-all. On your consumables list include pencils, erasers, highlighters, notebooks, binders, markers, glue, tape and scissors. On your clothing list, include shirts, pants, socks, shoes, and a backpack. On your catch-all list include lunch boxes, storage containers, calculators, locks, and special needs for after school activities like band or soccer.

Tip Two: Shop Early, Shop Often

Keep your list handy whenever you go shopping. The idea is to stay alert for rock bottom prices from clearance sales, close-out deals or other unexpected bargains during the spring and summer months.

Keep up to date on what’s happening at the local office supply stores. You are likely to find cheaper pens and pencils in their clearance bins than you will during the fall back to school bargain days at the department store. If you start the process early, you won’t be forced to spend more during the dog days of summer.

Tip Three: Pick Your Places

Don’t limit your shopping to big box stores. Expand your horizons. From your clothing list, you’ll find deals on gently used clothing, shoes and other fashions at thrift and consignment stores. You should also scour yard sales, garage sales and rummage sales with your list in hand.

When shopping for a back pack, don’t set your sights on the cheap packs offered at your nearest mega mart. Instead, keep your eyes peeled at camping supply or outdoor stores. You’ll find a higher quality pack at a better price and you can be confident that it will serve your child for several years.

Tip Four: Get Online

When it comes to bargain shopping, there’s no better resource than the on-line sales sites. Virtually anything you need is available on eBay and at similar auction sites. You can also search Craigslist for someone selling locally.

Don’t stop with the usual suspects. Check out your local Freecycle network for free pre-owned items like calculators and lunch boxes. Just sign up through If you don’t find anyone offering the things you need, place an “In Search Of” or “wanted” ad.


Sending your kids back to school doesn’t have to bust your budget. They key is to get organized, start early and shop through a variety of channels. If you do, you’ll save money and have more time in your summer to enjoy the sunshine with your kids.

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