5 Ways to Save Money on Back to School Shopping

ways to save money

Back to school shopping can seem financially and emotionally draining. But it doesn’t have to be!

Here are 5 ways to save money when you’re preparing for back to school, whether back to school means for a graduate degree or for preschool!

1. Repurpose/Reuse:  Before you even think about heading to a store, dig around at home and see what supplies you may have laying around. It might surprise you! In a quick sweep of my home I found several new, unused folders, an unopened box of crayons, 3 glue sticks, and a clean binder. It may not be much, but it’s that much less that you actually have to spend money on!

2. Think about what else is on sale at this time and stock up: Retailers take advantage of the back to school shoppers to clear out their inventory before the holiday season. You may see markdowns on electronic items like calculators and laptop computers. Also be on the lookout for dorm-type furniture like bunk beds and desks to be on sale.

3.  Skip the name brand and buy generic: I know many class lists include brands like Crayola, Elmers, and Ziploc.  I was in Target recently, and they were selling Up & Up Crayons for $0.25/pack. The same size pack of Crayola crayons were  $0.50. You save 50% by choosing the generic brand, with no difference in quality. Some items, especially food items, should be purchased as directed as it may affect food allergies.

4. Try Big Lots, or scratch and dent stores, instead of typical office supply stores: these stores often have excellent prices, especially on snacks for lunchboxes.  I have found organic granola bars for as low as $1.50 per box at Big Lots in the past. That’s a great stock-up price!

5. Know what you can get for free. Many stores, like Staples, offer a rebate program that offers rebates on school supplies, making them completely free. Check out the weekly office supply store flyers to see what items are offered each week. Last week I was able to purchase 2 reams of printer paper that were free after the in-ad coupon and Staples’ “Easy Rebate” program.

Back to School does not have to break the bank! Will you use these tips when you’re shopping for Back to School?





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  1. says

    Thanks for the awesome tips! With clothes, we’ve been lucky to have many hand me downs.. we hardly ever had to buy much.. until now. Saved us a ton! I also just re-discovered Big Lots.. love it! Will definitely continue shopping there~!

  2. says

    I use to think I had to buy the brand name crayons or pencils but now that my daughter is going into 3rd grade I have definitely learned that generic is the way to go UNLESS the brand name has a really good deal going.

  3. says

    When our daughter went to public school I waited until after the first day to buy supplies because a lot of times the teachers wanted something different than the stock list the district/school put out or she didn’t really need everything on the list.

  4. says

    Loved your tips; with 3 kids at different grades going back to school can get expensive, I always try to re-purpose and if generic is much cheaper generic it is; why worry if the paper is brand name, the kids just toss it anyways… Will have to share your tips with my friends, they will get a lot of great ideas from this. Thanks for sharing, we love to save money

  5. says

    I tend to buy a lot of school supplies when they are discounted. I have a stash of most of what they need from my purchases last year. I do buy the name brands because I think most of them are better quality but it certainly doesn’t matter to little kids or me!

  6. says

    Skip the name brand and buy generic is such great advice. My hubby and I were just discussing that before we went out the other day to finish up our list. That can be confusing to the parent and the children.

  7. says

    I buy generic in something one thing I won’t buy generic is crayons they have to be Crayola. Clothes wise the kids aren’t into “brands” right now with clothes. Shoes yes but not clothes.

  8. Amanda says

    This is brilliant! I’ve also found that stores like Staples and OfficeMax will have 1 cent deals going on mid summer, if you’re willing to start the shopping a little early. I’ve managed to snag index cards, pencils and even comp books at a wicked deal.

  9. says

    Skipping the name brand works great in most cases, but we found out last night that it doesn’t work for colored pencils LOL. I love all these tips though!

  10. says

    Great tips. I made sure to get scissors back from the teachers to reuse….and I’m having my oldest use her backpack again until it wears out.

  11. says

    I used to visit Big Lots all the time as a teacher but once I stayed home with my kiddos, I forgot all about it. Thanks for the reminder of them!

  12. says

    Excellent tips! I always try to skip the name brands because they’re way too expensive. If my kids really want a particular brand we can’t afford, I’ll just take them to a outlet store or order online. That don’t really help, but it’s better than paying full price.

  13. says

    Great tips! I stock up on a lot of back-to-school supplies when they are on sale, to donate to our school’s Salvation Army Stocking in November.

  14. Tammy S says

    Great tips! I always buy a bunch of the school supplies when they put them on clearance after all the back to school sales are over.

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