Back To School Money Saving Tips

It’s that time of year again – back to school – which means families everywhere are heading out to the stores and forking over fistfuls of money on everything from pencils to peanut butter. According to the National Retail Federation, the average family spends $550 on school supplies each fall, making this time of year second only to Christmas –  for total consumer spending. 

Subsequently, Casa Latina is happy to offer simple solutions to keep more money in your family’s pocket.      

 Tip #1: Make a list and set your budget:

  • It’s a good idea to know what you need to buy and how much is available to spend before you go shopping.
  • 85% of people plan to spend less– but if the average is nearly $550 – what does that truly mean for you and your family – $200, $300? Having a defined back-to-school budget and sticking to it is essential.
  • Back-to-school time is the perfect time to begin teaching your children about budgeting habits. Before you go out to restock on back-to-school supplies or clothes, work with your child to craft a budget. When you’re shopping, work as a team to find the best deals. If you have money left over, reward your good work with a small treat or put the extra money into a rainy day fund. 

Tip #2 Cash or Credit?

  • If you pay off your bills each month, you may want to use credit and get rewarded for your back to school purchases. can help you find cards offering the best rewards points, and you can narrow down results by the types of rewards you want to earn, whether it’s cash back, points at your favorite retail stores, or miles.
  • Is your credit card earning you an A in savings? Nearly 80% of people are on the wrong credit card according to BillShrink’s research, to find out which is right for your unique spending habits, visit the site.

Tip #3 Get Connected on the Cheap

  • If your child is old enough, consider joining a family plan so everyone can stay connected, especially when the carpool plans fall through or games get cancelled. can help you find the most cost-effective plans for your family that can satisfy your teen who can’t live without texts and your need to access your email. On average, a family can save $300 on their wireless plan when using BillShrink.

Tip #4 Buy Books Online

  • Look online to find the most affordable books. At, readers can find used books and textbooks up to 80% off, and shipping on book orders is not only free anywhere in the U.S. but it’s a carbon offset!  What’s more, when you buy through Better World Books, you’re supporting global literacy programs – a portion of all revenues goes to organizations like Books for Africa and Room to Read, and to date they’ve raised over $6 million for literacy.  Save upwards of 80% on all your textbooks, and with college text books costing up to $200, that’s a lot of savings.

Tip #5 Alternative Transportation

  • If you’re close enough to school, have your kids walk or ride bikes with their friends. Otherwise, take the school bus or start your own carpool. Gas prices can vary by $0.50 within one neighborhood, so use free online tools like that can help you find the cheapest gas prices along your route.  With the average commute, that’s a savings of up to $130/year just during the week.

Tip #6 Get cash back on supplies from top retailers

  • With cash back deals and partnerships with over 800 retailers from Staples to Office Depot to Wallmart, chances are you’ll find what you need for back to school shopping all in one convenient location – Websites that offer cash back on your online purchases are a great way to put some extra money back in your wallet, where it belongs.

Tip #7 Save on Sports 

  • If your son or daughter is planning on starting a new sport this school year, see if there’s a way to find a deal on equipment. A great way is to contact graduating athletes or family friends to see if they have an extra lacrosse stick or baseball glove that they would be willing to part with. Plus, if your child is trying something for the first time, make sure they like the sport before buying the newest equipment.

Tip #8 Only Buy What You Need

  • Once you’re in the store, all those fun extras can be tempting – colored pens, locker accessories, self-stick notes, the list stretches on and on – but chances are, your back to school budget doesn’t. To avoid overspending, determine how you’ll handle your child’s requests for non-essentials before you head out to shop.

Some Ways to Handle Your Child’s Requests:

  1. Allow one extra purchase
  2.  Have your child foot the bill for anything that’s not on the list
  3.  Have your child pay the difference between what you’re willing to buy, and what they want to buy

Tip #9  Buy This Now, Buy That Later

  • Some stores actually raise their prices on popular back-to-school items before school starts. So search for school bargains all year.  Why wait until September to purchase notebooks, pens and clothing? You can spread out your spending and get great deals if you’re on the look-out all year long, instead of dropping hundreds of dollars in August. While school supplies are generally cheaper during back to school, clothing sales go on throughout the year, many times with better deals than during back-to-school season.

Tip #10 Take Advantage of Tax-Free Holidays

  • Many states offer tax-free holidays around the start of the school year. Find out if your state has one planned; and if it does, be sure to take advantage of it. Shopping on the right day could take as much as 10% off of your back to school tab.

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3 Responses

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  1. Anais
    Aug 30, 2010 - 11:23 PM

    Along with Tip #3, I would say look into a prepaid cell phone instead of a family plan. Family plans can get expensive when kids don’t have a set limit on minutes. I got my son a prepaid cell phone from TracFone. I buy him prepaid cards with a set amount of minutes so I don’t spend money on minutes he doesn’t use nor do I have to worry about overage fees. Great for back to school!

    • Nora Diaz Bretherton
      Sep 01, 2010 - 05:19 PM

      That is a great tip. A prepaind card is also a good way for kids to get used to the fact that minutes are not unlimited. Thank You!

  2. Printable Coupons
    Sep 03, 2010 - 11:57 AM

    Great tips. I’ve been doing these as well. It’s amazing how many things you really don’t need that are already around the house. Don’t forget the list and if possible, don’t bring the kids. Use coupons too..


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