11 Ways to Save Money Back to School Shopping

11 Back to School Hacks to Save Money All Year Long

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Great Back to School Hacks from Kati Kiefer

I am so excited to bring you this guest post from Kati over at TrueCouponing! She was nice enough to let me guest post last month when I wrote about 12 Ways to Make Money Online and now she is going to share her very best Back to School Hacks!

She is sharing some great tips, hacks and apps that will help you to save on school supplies, groceries and clothing. I love #1 and can’t wait to do this for my kids!

These 11 Back to School Hacks will help you save money all year long! #1 is my favorite! I can't wait to do this for my kids. #10 is a program I didn't know about either!


Kati Kiefer True Couponing

My name is Kati and I blog over at TrueCouponing about how to save money and have enough extra to bless others in the process.

I was an accountant before I was a Mom and we homeschool our four children. Eight years ago my husband was faced with a large pay-cut so I needed to put my accounting skills to the test in order to find creative ways to save money. I quickly learned that coupons could pay for things instead of our own cash.

The homeschooling mom/teacher in me helped me figure out how to use coupons in the fastest way with the most significant financial impact (we call it “reasonable couponing” instead of “extreme couponing”).

My strategies caught on like wildfire and now, along with writing my personal blog, each Sunday, you’ll find me on Fox TV sharing my knowledge in two Money-Saving Segments.

Today, I’ve gathered a few of my best Back to School Hacks that relate to setting up your School Year for financial success.

1. Hang Snacks For Easy Grab & Go

I honestly think the most frustrating words in my children’s vocabulary are… “I’m hunnnnnngry… Mom, do we have any snacks?”

To combat that problem, I set up a “hanging snack distributor” We hang it on the back of our Pantry Door and I fill it up every couple weeks with super easy snacks to satisfy that afternoon get-me-to-dinner lull.

You can find this Shoe Holder at Dollar Tree, the Dollar Section at Target, or order from Amazon for less than $10 and have it tomorrow (with Prime). Snack Organizer Idea

Some ideas for filling it include:

And we also keep a single bin in the fridge for the fresh/refrigerated snacks such as:

  • yogurt (cups or tubes)
  • string cheese
  • fruits such as grapes or apples (washed and bagged)
  • carrot sticks

2. Buy {Discount} Gift Cards TODAY

As the school year gets underway kids start to get older… and with that comes a gazillion birthday parties. Now, contrary to what you are expecting, I am not suggesting you buy gift cards to give… I want you to buy discounted gift cards TO USE.

Think of where you typically purchase birthday gifts. Walmart? Target? Dicks Sporting Goods? (I have 3 boys)

Well, instead of using your own cash, how about you buy a gift card that you bought at a discount and then USE IT instead? You can get at least a 10% discount, and usually save even more.

That will make your money go wayyyy farther!

Also, since Gift Cards are a form of payment, you can use coupons along with them, further stretching your money.

My two favorite places to buy Discounted Gift Cards are Cardpool and CardCash (and if you use my link you’ll get $5 off when you join either).

3. Stock up on School Supplies {for the entire year}

NOW is the best time to buy School Supplies.

They really are the cheapest you’ll find them for the entire year. And while you are shopping for your kids, think ahead to ensure you have a small stash for yourself when Christmas Wrapping Season comes and you can’t find the tape.

As an example, you can buy index cards right now for 50¢ each or you can spend $2 later when you run out at 8:30 pm on a weeknight to get them… it’s totally up to you!

11 Back to School Hacks to Save Money

4. Create A Cute {and super cheap} Organizing Center for easy Homework Time

It never fails, one of my kids needs a specific item (maybe a highlighter or colored pencil) and no one can find one. Round up those UNcommonly used school supplies (that you bought for next to nothing anyway) and organize them using decorated cereal boxes.

Creating the craft alone is a fun activity, but you’ll be so glad to have it in one central location when the school year goes underway and you have to color that world map FOR TOMORROW.

Back to School Homework Caddy

5. Submit Receipts

I saved over $200 last year simply saving up my receipts and submitting them (once a week) to multiple Money-Saving Apps.

The ones I used each week are:

Yes, ONE receipt can be submitted to each app (except Walmart, only Walmart receipts can be submitted there). There is no reason NOT to take 10 minutes each week and force your phone pay for itself.


RELATED POST: Goal Setting Worksheet for Moms


6. Print FREE School Planners from Home

I know those planners look oh-so-glamorous on the shelf of the store, but so many of them are available to print for FREE at home. Here’s a Student one my college-bound daughter, Annabelle, printed recently and one for us Mommy’s too.

Free Printable Student Binder: Over 25 Excellent Planning Pages!

Planner Printables

7. Give Yourself ONE Splurge Item. Period.

Am I the only one that gets slightly carried away when I go to the Dollar Section at Target? No? Okay good… because here is how I save myself from overspending in that area, regardless of how adorable the item is. I allow myself ONE splurge item.

Yes, this ultimately means I might have to put back a couple items but at least that helps me to stop wincing when I get to the register from overspending AND I still got to get a fun item I wanted.

I use my shopping list as my “standard” and if an item I want is not ON the list (before I walked into the store), then it has to count as a splurge item. Be strong Momma! Be strong.

8. Use Sunday to Meal Plan Lunches For The Week

Meal planning is probably the best way to save money, because you aren’t caught off guard with the added expense of a restaurant meal. Also, by meal planning, you won’t be stuck at home on a Friday night wondering what to cook. It’s very easy to decide to order pizza or eat out when you have nothing planned, and that can certainly add up pretty quickly!

Instead, use Sunday afternoon to quickly jot down the meals you’ll be making for lunch and then prep any ingredients you can ahead of time.

We use chicken as a staple several times a week. That means on Sunday afternoon I will bake extra amounts of chicken. We use some for dinner and then let the rest cool and pack it away to have an easy go-to protein to make into chicken salad or quesadillas, or even Chicken Cacciatore in the crock pot!

In fact, I got so sick of thinking up new lunch ideas that I created a download to mix and match lunch ideas and create a month of meals in minutes… if only I could wave a magic wand and have someone make them too, right?!


RELATED POST: Save Time: Printable Grocery List


9. Be Recipe Ready

While this tip “piggy-backs” off the one above, it is more about stocking your pantry to make it easier to cook quick meals than doing the actual cooking ahead of time.

Take half an hour and gather some of your favorite go-to dinner recipes (spaghetti and meatballs would be one for my family). Make a list of the ingredients that you can buy now and stock in your pantry (like pasta and canned tomatoes).

By getting your pantry stocked with everything you need for a few dinners expect those things you’ll need to buy that day (like the meat). You’ll save precious time running up to the store when time is limited.

Bonus Tip: Want to go “over the top” for the first week back? Why not make a PB&J Recipe every day (they are all super easy) from a “Breakfast Bake” to a PB&J Grill Cheese… these 15 recipes will certainly make your kids first week memorable!

Stop buying shredded cheese

10. Stop Paying For Convenience Items

Have you ever noticed the price difference between a bag of shredded cheese and a block of cheese? The bags of pre-shredded cheese are more that DOUBLE the price because you’re literally paying for someone to shred it for you.

If you can take an extra two minutes out of your day to shred some cheese, you’ll seriously save some money. This goes for bagged lettuce, bagged apples/carrots/celery and several other things that ultimately, someone else did the chopping for you.

Make the dinner kitchen time more fun by prepping a few extra items to make your week smoother… and save some money while you are at it.

11. Take Advantage of Being a Mom Taxi with FREE Gas

The single thing I dread most with heading back to school is all the driving I do… dropping off one child in one place and picking up another somewhere else.

If you are carting children around like a taxi cab then you should know that you can earn a FREE Tank of Gas Each Month just by registering with Shell’s Fuel Reward Network. By linking my Mastercard Debit card I earn one free tank of gas EACH MONTH buying groceries, eating out at certain restaurants and yes, fuel.

Simply join the Fuel Reward Network and see how easy it is for you to do too!

If I were asked to boil down the most important Money Saving Strategy, I’d say that it is pre-planning. Pre-Planning will keep you ahead of the game, which in turn, keeps you from frantically over-spending. I hope these back to school hacks have inspired you to set up your School Year for success.

Kati Kiefer True Couponing Bio

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