Just so we’re clear, I’m not happy writing this article. I’m not happy acknowledging that summer is winding down and school is around the corner. Well, I’m not happy about the summer part. I’m fine with the back to school part.

That being said, the calendar does not lie and I need to get myself in gear. These kids are going to need stuff. And it’s my job to get it. Below are some tips I’ve cobbled together over the years to make back-to-school shopping quick and painless–so we can get back to the business of summer!

#1 Take Inventory

I remember one particular year when my mother allowed to do my own school shopping. Come the first day of school (with temps still in the 80s), I had one pair of corduroys, three sweaters and about fourteen shirts—and none of them matched.

Before heading out this year, take an inventory of what can be salvaged for the upcoming season then make a list of what you’ll need, including color and quantity, and stick to it with military precision when shopping. Pro Tip: Hit up the clearance racks for summer clothes sales since kids will still be wearing summer clothes for another month or so.

#2 Fly Solo

Do you enjoy herding cats? Me neither. Before you attempt school shopping with kids in tow, set up a babysitting swap with a friend, family member or employ a day camp. If you can swing a shopping trip sans kids, it’ll be easier, less stressful and you’ll accomplish 1000x more alone than you would in a pack. Plus, you can squeeze in an iced coffee and a pop into Homegoods. That’s what I would do.

#3 Shop Online

Most stores have the same sales and discounts in-store as they do online, so why drag yourself out into the madness? No more searching for colors, sizes and matching ensembles. This time of year, most stores will offer free shipping with minimal purchases and if you have a physical store close by, returns are easy (no more mailing back packages and waiting for refunds). This also leaves more time for iced coffee and Homegoods (see above).

#4 Buck the System with Credit Cards

If you plan on making a large purchase at one store, you may want to consider opening a store credit card. Typically, you’ll shave 20% off your entire purchase by opening an account which can amount to saving a lot of green. In addition, you’ll regularly receive special card holder discounts, coupons and cash back. Note: be sure to pay off your balance every month because the interest rates, usually around 24% APR, are a killer.

#5 Printable & Online Coupons

Before you make any purchases, Google “coupons” or “coupon codes” and you’re bound to come up some sort of savings. Many coupons have limitations and can only be used either in-store or online but it’s worth the extra few minutes of searching—you can often save 15-20% or receive free shipping which will typically save you $10 or more.

Ready, set, go. Happy shopping!


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