How to Score A+ Savings on Back to School Supplies

Today’s Post is Written by Brittany Anas


Not to sound all “old codger” on you, but back in the day, school supply lists were short, right? Some No. 2 pencils, a box of tissues to share with the classroom and a few carefully selected Lisa Frank folders. (Oh, the anguish of deciding whether the colorful kitten and rainbows style should hold your math homework or your language arts assignments).  But, today, the lists have gotten longer and the supplies, in many cases, are more technological (read: expensive).  The National Retail Federation predicts you’ll spend $634.78 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics during this back-to-school season.  I predict you can come in under that number.  Here’s how you can save on school supplies and new school clothes without dipping into your kids’ college funds.

Shop online for school supplies. Not ready to wade through the school supply aisles when you could be enjoying a few more days at the pool? We hear ya. Use to buy online at stores like Office Depot, Target, Wal-Mart and Best Buy. Not only will you be able to find what’s in stores, but you’ll get Cash Back offers and save time, too. Once you reach $20 in Cash Back, you’ll get a check mailed to you.

Plan for next year. Just like you can find wrapping paper for cheap after Christmas, look for deep discounts on school supplies in September. Stock up for next year. There are the “regulars” on your kids’ school supply lists — like pens, loose-leaf paper, markers, tape and glue — that you’ll have a need for again next year. But, also try looking online at the shopping list for the next grade up to see what you can save on for next year.

Invest in quality. Backpacks can take a battering. Some brands really stand behind their products and offer lifetime warranties. Among them? The North Face and JanSport. Also, avoid cheap supplies like pens and flimsy notebooks — spending a little more now will save you in the long run.

Shop the back-to-school sales. You’ll be able to find everything from $10 jeans at Old Navy to discounts up to 50 percent at Macy’s. Now is a great time to find deals on school uniforms, too. Even if your kid isn’t required to wear a uniform, shop the  “uniform shop” sales — you’ll find great deals on basics like polos, khakis and jumpers. Remember, you don’t have to buy clothes for the entire school year.

Pick a color scheme. For younger kids, buy clothes in two or three colors. Let your kids tell you what their favorite colors are so they can be a part of the shopping process. I promise it will make mixing and matching outfits much easier and you’ll be able to wash the clothes in the same laundry cycle, saving you time, as well.

Look in unexpected places. For some of the expensive school supply items (we’re looking at you, graphing calculators), check first with a friend or family member who might have one that’s going unused. If not, do a quick search at a local thrift store or on eBay.


Brittany Anas writes for (

 Photo credit: Used with permission from Creative Commons


  1. Very useful and thoughtful tips. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Brett says:

    holy smokes. whoever spends that $600++ hasn’t ever shopped a sale!!

  3. Debra says:

    Great tips, I also try to buy in bulk or extras of school supply staples when I see them on sale. I have a bin n our garage with all my extra finds throughout the year and just dip into it when needed.

  4. Cyndie says:

    I bought my son a LL Bean back pack 3 years ago, Best investment I have ever made because he is on his 4th school year using it.

  5. I also suggest that people look at for backpacks and calculators and other durable school supply items.

  6. Beth says:

    Lots of great tips!

  7. Kristin says:

    fantastic ideas!! I also like to ask around with friends and family. If they plan on throwing it away anyways, why not ask for you to keep it and then store it away in your craft box?! :)

  8. Malia says:

    Thanks for the tips! I plan on shopping the school supply clearance at Target. Hoping i can get some good deals

  9. Taylor says:

    I love these ideas! I especially like the one about planning for next year. Sometimes I will see school supplies on sale for pennies, but I never grab a bunch of them. Perhaps I should!

  10. Our daughter will be in first grade this year, and we are so fortunate that we don’t have to purchase any school supplies for her. The school provides their supplies which is great! But, anyway, the tips in this post is very helpful.

  11. Ashley says:

    These are some great tips. I know school supplies can be expensive at times!

  12. christy karch says:

    i LOVE SHOPATHOME and use it during christmas time to get cash back on all my purchases:)

  13. Great tips.. we always need to save on school supplies and these will come in handy this week when I start shopping; I never leave without a coupon and always buy when it’s on sale…

  14. I agree about shopping online. I am an online shopping addict and it allows me to save a lot of money.

  15. Kristyn says:

    Wow I love all these great tips! Thanks for posting this!!!

  16. Jenny says:

    well when my son goes back to school it’s not about colour scheme, clothing, pencils or folders. they have us buying their god damned groceries!! Coffee filters, wipes, paper towels… you name it. It’s insane!! This year my son will have to go without all that crap cause I can’t afford it… he either gets clothes or their shit. Guess what’s more important :P

  17. Liz says:

    I always buy more than I need so that I’ll have some for the next year or at the least for the entire year. I never thought to buy online for school supplies though!

  18. Ave says:

    Thanks for sharing great tips! I will bookmark this post for the future!

  19. Dawn Lopez says:

    Oh I know.. the lists seem to get bigger and bigger every year! Thanks for these fresh ideas!

  20. I have to buy school supplies for 4 kids so this is a great read right now.

  21. That’s being a smart shopper! Great ideas!

  22. Joanne says:

    My kids are homeschooled so we buy things as we need them, but we try to shop some of the BTS sales just to stock up.

  23. Very useful ideas and interesting tips. Thanks for sharing.

  24. I love the idea of tapping friends and family for things you can repurpose like graphing calculators. Thakns for the great tips!

  25. Oh I never thought to shop online for school supplies… I need to check that out, thanks!

  26. Mariana says:

    Great tips! I also try to think ahead and stock up when I find a really great deal.

  27. Charise says:

    Great tips! My son is starting preschool for the first time this year, so all of this BTS info is finally relevant for me :-)

  28. great tips! Thanks!!

  29. Great tips! Thanks!

  30. Emerald says:

    I love buying notebooks and pens in bulk. Saves time and money,

  31. We always buy extra to last through the year, and then if they go on sale again through out the year I restock.