So here we are in August, which means back to school shopping is upon us. Is it just me or does the phrase “back to school shopping” strike fear in almost every parent? August can be an awful time of year – parents dread the preparation process for going back to school. Kids dread the actual going back to school. And we’re all just trying to pretend summer isn’t almost over.
I saw a great quote online the other day about how August is the “Sunday night” of months, so I put our own This Custom Life spin on it:
August is the month that we’re trying to cram it all in. New clothes, school supplies, planning for classes, dealing with nerves over a new grade or a new school. It can be a rough transition month. It can also be a bank breaker with all the new stuff that you need to get.
BUT – if you’re getting kids ready to go back to school, hopefully we can help keep August from becoming a monster month!
Let’s flip the script on August and look at it as a month-long opportunity for bargains! We’ve compiled a list of some GREAT sites for back to school offers and sales so that you can save money as you enter this final sprint of summer.
This post contains affiliate links. For more about what that means, click here.
STOP. BEFORE YOU GO ANY FURTHER, YOU NEED TO READ THIS:
If you aren’t signed up for any cashback services, you are leaving money on the table. Plain and simple. I don’t think I can state it any more clearly.
Here are two services that are totally worth it to my family – and there is no reason you can’t sign up for both. (On Rakuten alone, I’ve earned almost $400 since November!)
Rakuten (formerly eBates)
Rakuten gives you cash back when you shop through their link. Which is much easier than it sounds – namely because you can install a plug-in to your browser so that when you visit any site that offers cash back through Rakuten, you’ll see a pop up that tells you how much cash you’ll get back.
You click on the button in the pop up, shop, check out – and boom. Cash back! Rakuten partners with all kinds of brands from Amazon to Lands End. I’ve even gotten 5% back on hotel stays by booking through Hilton.com. That all adds up!
You can check it out and sign up here.
Ibotta works very similarly, but seems geared a bit more towards shopping in physical stores than Rakuten. You save offers from various stores to your account, then you snap a photo of your reciept and the app will match up your receipt to the offer and deposit cash back into your account. There are a ton of stores it works with, including major retailers like Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens. If you’re interested, you can sign up here.
Both Rakuten and Ibotta are great for cash back. And there’s no reason not to use both of them. Ibotta is easier to use via their app. You can manage your offers and take photos of your receipts through the app. It’s easier to use Rakuten when you’re shopping on your web browser. There is an app, but I find it much more intuitive to use their web-based system.
So – get to it and start getting that cash back!!
Let’s Get Down To Business
There are a ton of stores and websites vying for your back-to-school business. Here are a few that are running some great back to school specials – and I’ll keep updating this section as I find more deals!
It’s no secret I’m a huge Amazon shopper. If you read my posts about Prime Day, you’ll remember my pretty regular “problem” of having several brown Amazon packages that show up every week. (if loving Amazon Prime is wrong, I don’t wanna be right) So I’m sure it’s clear that I’m listing Amazon first on this list because I’m highly biased!
Amazon has a really extensive back to school department. And with their lightning fast delivery (if you’re a Prime member, that is – which if you’re not, please for crying out loud, join here. It’s such a great deal!!), our kids love going online, picking things out, and knowing the items will be in their hands within a day or two.
My stepdaughter loves her S’well bottle, and my stepson got excited about his Columbia lunchbox. Guess what – they’re both on Amazon and we can get it all in one place. Amazon’s Back To School section has a ton of stuff. Everything from actual school supplies to cupcake toppers and classroom decorations – whatever you need.
And if your kid ‘needs’ a new backpack at the start of every school year like ours do, I think Amazon has the best deals. They have a huge selection and carry everything from the latest trendy Herschel backpack to brands we love like Under Armour and North Face.
If you (or your child) would rather pick out back to school stuff in person, Target’s your place. And here’s a tip that will save you a ton of money over time. If you aren’t already a REDcard holder, you should be.
I thought for a long time that the Target REDcard was another store card – and I have less than zero interest in a card that charges 20-something percent interest when I can charge things on a credit card that will give me points or miles I can actually use!
BUT, I was mistaken and I’m glad I’ve now seen the light. Target offers two kinds of cards. One absolutely is a credit card. But for those who, like me, don’t want another store card, they offer a debit card that comes straight out of your bank account.
Why would you use that when you can just use your bank account debit card? 5%, that’s why. You get a 5% discount on all of your purchases – including stuff that’s on sale – when you use it. That’s right. If you find something that’s 20% off – it’s really 25% off for you.
I think about it this way. I can rarely get out of Target for less than $100 – even when I go for just one thing, it always snowballs.
But I at least know that for every $100 trip I make, I’m saving $5. Every little bit helps, right? At the very least, that’ll cover the macchiato you buy at the in-store Starbucks so you can caffeinate yourself for the shopping, amiright?
Oh, and did I mention that when you use your REDcard online, you get free shipping? AND when you shop online, if you have a Rakuten account, you can get an extra 1% in cash back in addition. Just saying. If I’ve convinced you, click below and sign up for your own REDcard.
I know I already mentioned getting cash back through Rakuten. But they also run frequent double cashback or other offers. In fact, right this very moment they’re offering one for back to school season. AS OF THIS MORNING, AUGUST 5TH, Rakuten is offering 10% back on great back to school merchants like Lands End, Old Navy, Groupon, Ulta, Under Armour, Carter’s – and more. Phew.
It won’t last and it’s totally worth checking out to see if you can save some money on any of your back to school clothing (or other purchases).
Erin Condren Planners
I love planners. As in, over the years I have pretty much used them all. From Franklin Covey to Kate Spade to Daytimers. Even when I’m at my most disorganized, having a good planner always makes me feel better. But out of the ones I’ve used, Erin Condren has been the most fun.
The planners are truly personalized for you, and there are countless options no matter what stage of like you’re in. They offer student planners, professional planners, project planners, you name it. And for our teachers out there, Erin Condren also makes great teacher planners.
They also offer a ton of new back to school planners and accessories – everything from cute office supplies to stickers and markers, it’s all designed to make you smile.
(oh – and if you order online, you’ll get 1% back if you use Rakuten!)
Macy’s is almost always running a sale. And back to school time is no exception. From a cute spiderman backpack and lunchbag set to school uniforms and more. But what I’d really recommend from Macy’s is for your college-bound child: dorm essentials. And can I just say that college dorm decor today is so much more chic than it was when I went off to school? I cringe thinking about the matching comforter set that my freshman year roommate and I bought. Red, blue, yellow – it was classic early 90’s. Cringe.
And if you’re using Rakuten – Macy’s is offering up to 10% cash back right now!
Like most retailers this time of year, Walmart has a dedicated back to school department on its website. Like Macy’s, it also has a huge selection of seriously cute, and reasonably priced, dorm essentials.
I mostly try to avoid going to a Walmart because I always seem to arrive when the parking lot is swarming and the aisles are packed. That being said, there are great deals, especially online. And Walmart offers next day delivery, which makes the online option very appealing!
And again with the Rakuten (sorry not sorry!) – Walmart is currently offering up to 5% cash back.
I hope having some of these ideas in one place wll help as you’re getting ready for back to school season. I’ll keep updating this post throughout August as sales keep popping up – so please keep checking back!!
And if you have any great sales or deals you think readers might want to know about, please send them to me. Happy shopping!