It takes effort to find back-to-school deals, but we stay motivated with one recurrent thought: The more we save in sending our kids to school, the more able we'll be to reward ourselves during those first blissful child-free schooldays -- assuming those savings don't go straight to groceries, or to more new clothes when the kids manage to outgrow their outfits before school even starts.
With thoughts of leisurely meetings at overpriced coffee shops dancing in our heads, we hit the online bargain trail. The first step? Get social. Whether shopping for clothes or school supplies, tapping into social media campaigns can score great deals. Sign up for email newsletters from brands or retailers that sell the items you need, and "like" these brands on Facebook or follow them on Twitter for special deals. At some stores, you can sign up to earn store rewards each time you shop. Check brand and store Web sites for e-coupons you can use online and in-store coupons you can print at home, pull up on your smart phone or access with your membership card. Watch for clearance sales, and if you order online, pair these bargains with free shipping offers. Some retailers, like Wal-Mart, will offer to ship your order to the store of your choice for free pick-up so you can save on shipping costs.
You can get bargains if you spend strategically, too. Target, for example, sometimes offers $5 gift cards with the purchase of certain items, such as laundry detergent. Since you have to buy detergent anyway to wash all those clothes, stock up. Then save the gift cards until the things your child needs go on sale.
If your state offers a sales tax holiday, take advantage of it. Often, these tax-free days occur in the summer, just in time for back-to-school shopping. The Federation of Tax Administrators has compiled a state-by-state list of tax-free days.
However, even the best bargain isn't such a steal if your child refuses to use or wear it. If you have a persnickety consumer on your hands, take him or her shopping with you. You can identify the sale items and then let your child choose from those options. If you'd really like to get a head start on school, you can compare prices together -- a practical and relatable use for mathematics! See, your child really can apply math to everyday life.