4 Smart Apps to Save Money on Back to School Shopping

This post originally appeared on Forbes.

This week past week has been a whirlwind of preparations for my son to head back to school for first grade. Between supply lists, a few new wardrobe items, a backpack and lunchbox, new shoes and gear for his first season of soccer, we’ve been spending quite a bit.

save money back to school shopping
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

We were able to reuse some supplies from last year and got like-new soccer cleats at a resale shop. Beyond that, I’ve tried to maximize our savings by taking advantage of a handful of money-saving apps.

Here’s a look at some of my favorites.

Honey

Every time I shop online, I hunt for a coupon code before I hit that “Place Order” button. But scouring the internet for coupon codes can be a huge time suck. Honey handles that for you.

It’s a free browser extension that automatically aggregates and applies discount codes at checkout when shopping online. Once downloaded, the work is done.

Once you’re on a site that is supported by Honey, click on the Honey icon in your browser to see coupons that are available for that store. When you’re on a checkout page with a promo code field, Honey will pop up. You just click Apply Coupons and Honey will automatically try all known coupon codes for that shopping site. They even have some Honey-exclusive codes. If it finds a code that works, it will apply the one that saves you the most money.

Discounts and coupon codes are available for purchases at over 3,000 shopping sites. It will even stack coupon codes when possible, ensuring you get the best deal possible. According to analytics provided by Honey, during August and September of 2017, Honey users spend $2,190,851.61 at stores like Office Max, Staples, etc. and save $1,101,328.88 in that time period due to Honey.

Visit joinhoney.com and download the extension. It currently works on Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari and Edge.

Dosh

If you want to make saving money online hands-free, check out Dosh. Unlike other cashback apps, you don’t need to scan receipts, initiate a purchase from their website, or apply coupon codes. Just connect your credit card or debit card. When you pay with a linked card, Dosh gets you up to 8% cash back whenever you make a qualifying purchase.

Currently Dosh gets you cash back at thousands of stores, including Gap, Nike, Target, Sephora, Bed Bath & Beyond, Forever 21, TOMS Shoes, and The Container Store.  and get up to 8% cash back instantly in your Dosh wallet. Brands like

Once you have at least $25 in your Dosh account, you can transfer your cash to a bank account, PayPal or donate it to charity. Visit dosh.cash or download the app on the iPhone App Store or Google Play. Right now, you can earn $5 just for linking your first card.

Spent

Spent is another app that lets you save money on purchased without any extra steps. Simply connect a credit or debit card to the app and earn cash back with you use the linked card with select brands and retailers.

For example, browsing the app right now I see I can earn 1% back at Whole Foods, Costco, Starbucks, Walgreens and Netflix.

You can transfer your cash back to your PayPal account once you have at least $20 in rewards. Since many of the offers are in the 1% range, that may take a while. But since earning happens in the background, it’s just another easy way to save money on shopping you’d be doing anyway without any effort beyond setting up your account and linking your card.

Visit spentapp.com or download the app on the iPhone App Store or Google Play.

Drop

Is your wallet or keychain crammed with loyalty cards? I still have a few but I find I use them less and less now that almost everything is electronic.

Drop can replace most of those loyalty cards. It works by matching up purchases you make with offers you’ve selected on the Drop app. You just link a debit or credit card and select five of your favorite brands. These are usually prominent retailers. I chose Target, Starbucks, Chipotle, Walgreens and Sephora. Choose wisely, because you can’t change your favorite brands once you’ve selected them. But you’ll earn points every time you shop at those retailers with a linked card.

You can also earn points by shopping with certain retailers, linking a second account, inviting your friends to sign up for Drop, and checking out the brand on social media. Once you’ve earned at least 5,000 points, you can exchange those points for gift cards. Five thousand points is worth a $5 gift card.

Visit earnwithdrop.com or download the app on the iPhone App Store or Google Play. Enter code 5dc69 to get an extra 1,000 Drop points upon signup.

Keep in mind, you can often stack rewards from these apps with other coupons or cash back apps like Ebates or BeFrugal. It might take a little research to find the combination of apps and offers that maximize your savings, but even if you just connect your cards in Drop, Spent and Dosh and download the Honey extension, you should be able to earn some decent money back on the back-to-school shopping you’re doing anyway.

save money back to school shopping
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links on my website are affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I use all of the products I link and recommend them because they are companies that I have found to be helpful and trustworthy. Please let me know if you have any questions about any of the products or services I recommend!

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Money-Saving Tips for Back-to-School Shopping

This post originally appeared on Forbes last year as my son was about to start Kindergarten. Now that we’re ready to head back to school for 1st Grade, I thought it would be a good time to share these timely tips!

Invest in yourself.Your career is tHe engine of youR wealth.

Photo by Jess Watters on Unsplash

My son starts kindergarten next month, and last week I received his classroom supply list. Whew! It’s quite the list. I’m not sure I even carried a backpack in kindergarten, let alone showed up for the first day of class armed with three packages of glue sticks, two boxes of pencils, two three-ring binders, dry erase markers, plastic storage bags, headphones, sheet protectors, and two-pocket folders in red, green, yellow, and blue, among other things.

As luck would have it, I received an email from Jon Lal, father of two and founder and CEO of BeFrugal, a cash-back and coupon site geared towards online shoppers. Lal was kind enough to share the following tips and tricks for saving money and time while shopping online for back to school supplies, laptops and fall clothing.

Make a list and stick to a budget

No matter what sales or shopping holidays pop up, it’s always a good idea to start with a budget and a shopping list. Don’t forget to check last year’s inventory and compare what you need versus what you already have before you hit the stores or websites. Items like backpacks and binders might be in good enough shape to use again.

This year’s Amazon Prime Day was July 16th. Last year, Cardlytics, a firm that tracks purchasing data, reported that parents were using Prime Day as an opportunity to get a jump on back to school shopping. As a result, many stores have started online sales earlier in order to remain competitive.

Online Shopping

Now is the time to take advantage of online sales and start checking items off your list. Lal says the best back-to-school items to buy early are those that you need specific models or brand names, such as scientific calculators or other technology. Don’t risk stores running out before you can buy.

There are a lot of perks to shopping for school supplies online. It’s easier to avoid temptation this way, where kids won’t drag you into stores and go after the high-priced featured items covered in characters from this year’s most popular movie.

Shopping online is also the easiest way to find the best deal. You can compare prices with only a few clicks, and search for coupon codes on your favorite savings website. Sites like BeFrugal offer cash back when you shop online – it only takes a few seconds to click through and earn back a percentage of your purchase. You can even combine these rewards with the savings you get from coupon codes and sales. Be sure to look for free shipping codes or opt to pick up your order in-store for free.

BeFrugal.com Cash Back
 

August and September

If you can wait until the end of summer, that’s when the prices of generic items such as pens, pencils, and notebooks will drop significantly. September is also the best time to find good prices on fall clothing. Wait until August and September to find the lowest prices on laptop computers, as well.

Don’t forget to check and see if and when your state has a tax-free shopping weekend for additional savings.

Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links on my website are affiliate links and I may earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I use all of the products I link and recommend them because they are companies that I have found to be helpful and trustworthy. Please let me know if you have any questions about any of the products or services I recommend!