Save money, look cool & get your teens what they really want for back-to-school

Save money, look cool & get your teens what they really want for back-to-school

I don’t know about you, but I feel like the summer months really flew by this year! As your kids start to trade in their swimsuits, beach hangs and late nights for backpacks and notebooks, you’ll likely need to stock up on a few new things – and we’re here to help make sure you get the best deals on all of your back-to-school buys! 💪

And, while some of you might have gotten a jumpstart on your shopping during Prime Day, the majority of parents say they’re waiting on school lists or final decisions about in-person learning before opening their wallets. But, one thing’s for sure, kids are pumped about the new school year!

We even spoke with a few Step teens about their must-haves for back-to-school and what they’re looking forward to most this year. Here’s what they said:

I think my #1 thing, which should really be on everyone’s list, is making sure you’re on a budget because it’s SO easy to overspend once you get busy with school. I also love a good planner to help keep me organized with due dates.”
Sana, 9th grader
I’m interested to see how the physical high school experience is since my first year (9th grade) was mostly online. But, my Step Card is definitely a must-have for the vending machines and school supply lists. I’d also like a small laptop or iPad since I prefer digital notes.”
Adrian, 10th grader
I’m looking forward to seeing my friends again and actually interacting with people. Headphones are at the top of my school list because music is incredibly important to me and I couldn’t imagine going without them for the bus or studying.”
Cruz, 10th grader
I’m just happy to go back to school and see my friends after so long and take some interesting classes, too. I really want a crisp pair of shoes — like Vans — and some nice outfits.”
Faraaz, 12th grader

4 back-to-school shopping hacks from the pros

Whether you’re looking to do a big shopping haul or just picking up a few special things for your teen, we want to help you maximize your budget and keep more money in your pocket! So, we consulted a few shopping experts and here’s what you need to know:

1. Set a budget.

If you don’t already have a budget, now’s the time to set one. You may be thinking: Why do I need a budget, I’m just picking up a few items? Let me introduce you to a little thing I like to call “getting target-ed”. You walk into Target or Walmart to pick up 1 or 2 things and yet you walk out with a cart full of items...sound familiar? Taking a few minutes to write down the items you need to buy and the max you want to spend might sound like a small thing, but it’s a real game changer. And, this applies to online shopping, too! Now, when you’re browsing online or shopping the aisles, you’ll start mentally adding up costs and experts swear by it to prevent impulse buying.

2. Do your research.

You’ve likely started getting bombarded by emails and newsletters letting you know about massive, “one-day-only” sales that several retailers are having. Historically, these sales tactics help create a sense of urgency to get you to buy things now, often at higher prices. Don’t be afraid to take some time to dig deeper and research prices for the items on your shopping list. Sites like CamelCamelCamel and Honey make this really easy (here’s a full list to help you deal-hack like a pro!). Several retailers will also offer price matching, so if you see something on Amazon but happen to be at Best Buy and see the same item for a higher price, chances are they’ll match the price. And, Amazon makes it really easy with their barcode scanner. To find it, open your Amazon app, click on the camera icon in the search bar, then click the barcode and start scanning. This is one of the most important skills expert shoppers use!

3. Consider upcycling.

While this has become really popular –– especially amongst teens –– it doesn’t have to be limited to clothes on Depop or Poshmark, it can be applied to school supplies, too. Most of the time, traditional supplies like binders and rulers can be used for more than one year, but it doesn’t mean you can’t give them a fresh look! On Pinterest you can discover tons of creative ways to help your teen glow up their school supplies, and yes, I said glow up. Another thing that’s often overlooked is a back-to-school swap. You likely have friends with kids at varying ages, which is perfect. Organize a get together where you can trade clothes, shoes and other school supplies – why not make a fun night of it! Teens also love a good “vintage” item, like those ones you’ve been holding onto for way too long. 😎 Trust us, your teens will make them cool again. And, if you really want your kids to clean out their closets that are bursting at the seams, do a family Poshmark night and use the money you make to buy something off of their must-haves list for back-to-school.

4. Leverage your community.

We know that the past year has put a financial strain on many families, so if you’re a little tight on funds for back-to-school shopping, don't worry. We’ve found several ways to help you secure supplies without needing to spend a dime. First, don’t forget to check in with your school district as some states actually require schools to provide supplies to families at no charge. There are also several nonprofits that work with the community to donate supplies to families (here’s a state-by-state list). And, when it comes to books, you can always check your local library! Another amazing way to tap into your community is through your local Buy Nothing Group. There are over 6,000 groups globally, offering up more than you can imagine...for FREE! Not seeing a local group in your area? Then consider starting your own – it’s super easy. If at this point you’re still striking out, check to see if you qualify for the new child tax credit, which 43% of families are planning to use to help cover their back-to-school shopping needs.

Whether your kids will be returning to school in person or firing up their computers, we hope they have an awesome start to the school year! 🍎