Deal Finder: Saving $$$ for a different Back-to-School in 2020

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By LaTina Emerson, The Shopper Deal Finder

School is going to look radically different this fall, but students will still need basic school supplies and electronic devices, in particular, because of the risks associated with large gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, 63 percent of parents of K-12 students plan to buy computers and other electronics this year, up from 54 percent last year. They expect to spend an average of $274.44, which is up $71 from last year. Among college students, 60 percent plan to buy electronics, up from 53 percent last year, and expect to spend $261.52, an increase of nearly $27 from last year.

The increase in electronics spending is attributed to the need for at-home learning, and the survey found that 36 percent of parents expect to buy laptops, 22 percent plan to buy speakers and headphones, 21 percent expect to purchase other accessories such as a mouse or flash drive and 17 percent plan to buy printers. To accommodate students learning at home, 17 percent of parents also plan to buy non-computer items, including calculators, workbooks and home furnishings such as desks or chairs.

Whether parents choose face-to-face or online learning options for their children, they’ll need to find the best deals on traditional school supplies, including pens, pencils, notebooks and folders, as well as electronic devices. Here are some ways to save on back-to-school items:

Review Weekly Ads and Store Websites

To find the latest discounts on back-to-school items, review print or online weekly ads for retail, grocery and office supply stores. Compare prices at different stores to determine the best deals and stretch your hard-earned dollars. Also, visit retail stores’ websites to learn about their top deals and featured savings.

Before purchasing electronic items, it’s important to read product reviews from reputable sources such as Consumer Reports or online customer ratings to make sure you’re getting a quality product for a good price. Hunt for deals at stores such as Best Buy and BrandsMart U.S.A.

Check Social Media

Many retail stores promote deals on their social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Check out retailers’ social media accounts to get the latest information on their sales and promotions.

Look for Discount Codes and Coupons

Some retailers, including Kohl’s and J.C. Penney, frequently offer discount codes that give customers a percentage off their total purchase. The promos are posted on the stores’ websites, so check these sites often for potential savings.

Sign Up for Store Email or Text Alerts and Rewards Programs

Sign up for your favorite retail stores’ email or text alerts and rewards programs to automatically stay informed about their sales and discount promotion codes and earn savings on future purchases.

Shop at Discount Stores

Discount stores such as Dollar Tree, Big Lots, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and Roses are great places to find bargains. Keep discount stores in mind when doing back-to-school shopping because they regularly offer low prices.

Recycle Past Items

Before going on a shopping spree, parents should make a list of the items their children will need this school year and take inventory in their own home. They’ll probably find they have some leftover school supplies from last year that are in good condition or were never used. They can recycle these items and keep this money in their wallets for other expenses.

Partner with Other Parents

Especially during challenging economic times, it’s important to join forces with other parents who have school-aged children. Form a parent group in your neighborhood or with the parents of your child’s friends to trade leftover school supply items and keep each other informed on the best prices on school supply items in town.

Find School Supply Giveaways

In the days before COVID-19, many churches and nonprofit organizations offered annual school supply giveaways in the weeks leading up to the first day of school. This year is certainly unprecedented, but it’s possible that some organizations might continue their school supply giveaways, which have provided local students with backpacks, pencils, notebooks and much more. Stay on the lookout for announcements on church signs or in the local newspaper and ask family and friends if they’ve heard about any upcoming events.

Don’t Rush to Buy New School Clothes

Parents can save money on their child’s school clothes by waiting until September to make most of their purchases. Clothing prices typically go down in September after the back-to-school shopping rush, according to Consumer Reports. If children do need some new items in the meantime, parents can browse weekly retail ads to find the best deals.

In addition, parents can find bargains on clothing by shopping at resale or secondhand clothing stores, such as Plato’s Closet. Plato’s Closet offers a wide selection of trendy, designer styles and basic items at up to 70 percent off mall retail prices. The store buys current styles and trends that appeal to teens and young adults. Apparel items must be clean and in good condition with no stains, fading or excessive wear. Shoppers can trade in their own clothing items and receive cash to make new purchases.

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