I know, summer vacation just began, why would you be thinking of saving on back to school supplies right now? Back to school supplies can be a big expense, even more so if you have multiple kids in the family. 

If this is not your child’s first year going to school then you know the drill.  You get a letter in the mail a week or two before school starts or the first day of school. This letter usually contains a long list of items your child is going to need and you only have a short amount of time to purchase those items.  

You feel like you must run out to the store and buy everything on the list now because you don’t want your child to do without or be the reason they don’t do well in class.

Does this sound familiar?  If you don’t want back to school supplies to break your budget, then the time to start shopping for those supplies is now.  You should do this for a few reasons, one is to have time to find the best deals and buy items at the lowest possible price. Secondly, it divides the expense up into two or three months so it isn’t so much of a burden on your budget.

You are probably thinking, how am I going to start back to school shopping now if I don’t have the list of items my child is going to need.  Well, unless this is your first child going to school for the first day, then you probably have a good idea of what most of the items on the list will be.  You know, the basics, pens, pencils, notebooks, backpack, book covers etc…


Ways To Save on School Supplies

Now the first thing you should do is to shop for these items in your own home. You probably have some of these items hiding around the house.  Check your desk drawers, supply closet, junk drawers or wherever you normally keep items like these.  

Next, gather any items that your child brought back home on the last day of school to see what can be reused. Maybe those book covers and backpack just need a good washing to look new again.

Make a list of what you already have, and another of what you know you child is going to need so when you are out shopping you can refer to the list so you buy only what you absolutely have to.  

Now that you have a good idea of what you need to purchase, you should keep your eyes peeled for good deals on those items. Here are some tips for saving money on those back to school supplies…



Scan sale flyers

Scan sale flyers weekly to see what is on sale for a really good price.  If you find an item or two weekly, you will keep your budget intact and before you know it you will have all the supplies you are going to need.

Only buy items at the lowest price

Buy items at the lowest price you think you can get for them, Just because an item is on sale does not mean that it won’t come on sale for a lower price later on or at a different store.

Shop for items at dollar stores

Shop for items at dollar stores when possible. Most dollar stores will have the smaller supplies your child needs like pens, pencils erasers rulers, and notebooks.

Don’t forget your local drugstore 

Shop at your local drugstore for school supplies. I have found that when items come on sale at the drugstores, you can get them for far less than shopping at department stores.

Use coupons

In addition to scanning sale circulars adding coupons will save you even more on school supplies. Coupons.com always has coupons for school supplies leading up to the start of school. There are also money-saving coupon apps that you can use and you can also find coupons on Facebook. Some Manufacturers will offer coupons for liking their Facebook page.

Garage sales and thrift stores

Check out garage sales and thrift stores for gently worn school clothes, backpacks, and sports gear among other items.  Thredup.com is a great online shop that has nice higher end used clothing for great prices.  

Shop online clearance items

Shop online clearance items at walmart.com, target.com, among others to find great deals.  You can also get cash back from different apps while shopping online with  Ebates (you will get $10 automatically deposited into your account by using my link to sign up) , Swag Bucks, My Points (earn $10 when you sign up & make a $20 purchase) and Saving Star just for shopping through their online portals. Or by using their browser extensions which will alert you when you are shopping at a site that participates in their program.

Buy in bulk

Buy items that you are going to need throughout the year in bulk to save money at stores like Costco and Sam’s Club.  If you find the bulk item at a great deal but you know you will not need that many of a particular item, why not get together with other parents and split the cost.

Set limits

Set limits for your child. Your kids will want the latest and greatest backpack, sneakers or whatever.  Let them know that there are items less expensive that will meet their needs. If they want that item they will have to contribute.  You could pay for the portion that you would’ve originally paid and will have to pay the balance by doing chores or using their allowance. This will also help teach your child the value of money.    

Ask for help

Ask for help if you simply can not afford everything on your child’s back to school list. Talk to your child’s principal or homeroom teacher and let them know your situation.  Don’t worry,  they will understand and do whatever it takes to help their students succeed.   

More ways to save money

Now that you have gotten through this year’s back to school shopping list, it would be a good idea to keep your eyes peeled all year-long for great deals on supplies that your child is going to need throughout their school days.

Always check out the clearance aisles when shopping and when you find items at rock bottom prices, purchase them and store them away for next year so the financial burden isn’t so overwhelming. The same is true for Christmas shopping or any other big event that comes up in life.  Planning ahead is key to your financial health.


Do you have some super savvy back to school savings tips you would like to share? Leave a comment!