I was so flattered when ABC 7 Chicago asked me to come back to their studio bright and early today to talk again about savings on back to school shopping. This year I was really focused on gear versus supplies; for some reason the supply list is very short. Plus, I love to shop and bargain shop. And shop some more.
So here are my tips and tricks for saving on back to school gear, supplies, tech and more for kids of all ages and stages.
1) Backpacks: Backpacks are a must to buy FIRST! Seems like they are always out of stock and usually they are on sale so you can get the best price on the styles you want. Target.com has a slew of backpacks on sale currently at about 20% off plus free shipping – you can avoid the lines!
Also, it is smart to buy a higher quality backpack – this year I found a past-season Patagonia one on sale for my little guy for under $40 and free shipping. I’ve gotten lots of tips that Lands End has a guarantee on its backpacks – that it will replace broken zippers and the like – prices starting at around $39, plus you can monogram it so that your child theoretically doesn’t lose it.
2) Utilize your network and others to find deals: Friends aren’t just good for going to the movies or lunch – they also usually have kids your kids’ age. So why not get a group together for a clothing swap? I’ve given plenty of good barely-worn baby clothes to my neighbor. You can find some local clothing swaps by searching Meetup.com. In addition, you can find really key school clothing pieces at secondhand shops in your local neighborhood or on a site like http://www.thredup.com/ – an online consignment shop specializing in providing high-quality like-new clothes at reliably low prices.
3) It might be hot out but buy your winter gear now! By the time it is cold out, you’ll never find long underwear, snow pants, mittens, hats and gloves. Plus now there are major past-season sales going on where you can save up to 40% off winter gear. I love www.backcountry.com, rei.com and sierratradingpost.com.
4) Utilize coupons or discount codes- According to National Retail Federation, 36% of parents will do more online comparison shopping to find the best back-to-school deals. I never shop online without looking for a coupon code first. I use retailmenot or coupon cabin to score the most recent codes, or you can use a site like www.cardpool.com to score discounted gift cards to over hundreds of retailers. (I saw discounts for LL Bean). Other good sites are pricegrabber.com, the ShopGenius App, RedLaser App and Decide.com.
5) Buying for college? Your college-bound kiddos may be craving some brand name labels to take to college and you’re in luck with the opening of the Fashion Outlets of Chicago – http://www.fashionoutletsofchicago.com/ – they just opened ten days ago and are having lots of special sales and offerings for their grand opening – check their offers page for the latest. Bloomingdales Outlet there has a great sale going on through today – up to 60% off discounted prices – it’s a great place to get brand name coats, polo shirts, and denim for your high school grad.
6) Tips for shoe buying: Kids grow out of shoes fast. And shoes are expensive. Famous Footwear has some good tips for shoe shopping – buy versatile shoes that you can wear with many occasions and that have a little extra wiggle room in the toe area. Famous Footwear is also offering a BOGO offer for buy one, get one half off at all Famous Footwear locations and also online at famous.com.