Skip to main content

12 Money-Saving Tips for Back-to-School Shopping

How to avoid overspending on school supplies this year

Katy M. Clark

Published on: August 09, 2018

father and son school supply shopping

The school year is just around the corner, meaning your kids will need plenty of supplies to start the year off right. So how can you make sure you get what they need, but don’t end up in the red? Use these 12 money-saving tips to save big on your back-to-school shopping.

Make a list.

Bring a list when shopping and buy what’s on it. Check the school’s website for a list of suggested items for your child’s grade or bring the list sent directly from your child’s teacher. Without a list, you could fill your cart with things your kids MAY need vs. what they DO need. 

Shop the store’s sales flyer.

This is where you will find the best deals and biggest discounts. 

Check home.

Don’t forget to shop your home first. Did you stock up on pens or notebooks last year? Find last year’s stash to use this year.

Store hop.

Don’t be afraid to go to more than one store to get the best deal. If you shop just one store, you’ll get a bargain on some things, but you may pay full price for other things just because you are already in the door.

Shop different types of stores.

School supplies can be found at grocery stores, superstores, dollar stores and office supply stores as well as online.

Stock up — but only if it’s something you will use.

One year I found one-subject notebooks for 17 cents. You won’t find a better price and your kids will always need these.

Buy store brand vs. name brand.

Last year my daughter needed four plastic folders with fasteners. The store brand was 50 cents while the name brand was $1.99. Buying generic was a no-brainer in that case.

The same goes for licensed merchandise.

A Taylor Swift notebook cost $1.99. Meanwhile, the store brand notebook with the same number of pages cost 17 cents. Can you guess which one I bought?

But splurge on pencils.

That said, a teacher once told me that when it comes to pencils, buy the name brand. The store brand pencils, she said, splinter and crack like crazy, never lasting the whole school year. Then you are stuck making another trip to the store mid-year.

If you can, try shopping without the kids.

That way you’ll avoid the inevitable whining for something that is sparkly/hip/fringed/cool AND overpriced.

Check apps and follow stores on social media.

You may find a digital or printable coupon or discount code that you can use at checkout.

Don’t shop hungry.

Otherwise, all the effort you put in to getting great deals will be blown on that bag of chips and candy bar that your kids (or you!) just have to have at checkout.

Get the best of ParentMap delivered right to your inbox.

Share this resource with your friends!