11 Back-To-School Shopping Tips That Will Save You A Fortune

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Back-to-School Shopping Tips

It’s that time of year again – back-to-school shopping! As a parent on a budget, I know how expensive gearing up for a new school year can be. But having a game plan helps. Before you head to the stores, make a detailed list of everything your kids will need for back-to-school shopping. Start with necessities like school supplies, then add secondary items like clothing and backpacks. Having a list prevents impulse buys and helps you stick to only what you really need.

1. Set a Realistic Budget

Once your list is made, it’s time to map out a realistic back-to-school shopping budget. Review prices both online and in-stores so you can estimate costs for supplies, clothes, shoes, books, electronics, and any school fees. Then factor in what you can reasonably afford to spend. Remember to check for ways to save money in each category too – every bit counts! If possible, involve your kids in budgeting to teach smart shopping habits.

clever fox budget planner pro

2. Check Dollar Stores for Supplies

Dollar stores can be a budget saver’s paradise when it comes to basic back-to-school shopping supplies like notebooks, folders, pens, pencils, erasers, glue sticks, index cards, and more. Let your kids pick out trendy designs for cheap. Many dollar stores even carry seasonal supplies like locker accessories and some technology items. Just remember – skip the impulse buys! Stick to your school supply list.

bulk school supplies

3. Buy Store Brands and Generics

While flashy name brand notebooks and markers seem cool, the brand name markup isn’t worth it. Instead, choose cheaper store brand, generic, or off-brand versions when buying core school supplies like paper, binders, composition books, pens, pencils, and folders. The quality is often just as good as name brands for these basic items. Opting for the less expensive versions allows you to get more for your money and stick to your back-to-school budget. Your kids will still have the fun supplies they need, and you’ll avoid overspending just for brand name recognition.

school supplies

4. Shop Discount and Thrift Stores

Discount stores can offer great deals on back-to-school clothing and shoes. For major savings on gently used items, browse consignment shops and thrift stores. Kids grow so fast, many items are practically new! Look for clothes, shoes, backpacks, lunch boxes, and supplies when doing your back-to-school shopping.

rainbow dress

5. Use Coupons and Cash-Back Apps

Never shop without scoping out coupons first! Check Sunday newspaper inserts, retailer websites, newsletters and your inbox for promo codes. Use cash-back apps like Rakuten while shopping to earn money back on your purchases. Every little bit adds up over multiple shopping trips.

Essential School Supply Second Students

6. Shop School Supply Drives

Take advantage of back-to-school shopping supply drives run by schools, churches, and community organizations which collect donated items to distribute to families in need. Attending these free events in your area allows you to stock up on essentials like paper, notebooks, folders, pens, pencils and more at no cost. This enables you to conserve your limited shopping budget for other necessary purchases like clothes, shoes, and electronics. Supply drive assistance is available to all families struggling with back-to-school costs. Getting free basic supplies gives you more money to spend on additional required items for your student.

standard pencils

7. Skip the School Supply Kits

Pre-packaged school supply kits sold by stores or schools might seem convenient, but they are usually way overpriced. Make your own kit by buying only the supplies on your teacher’s list that your child actually needs. Resist those glossy but nonessential items.

school supplies

8. Wait for Back-to-School Sales

The best time to score deals on back-to-school shopping items is in late summer. Retailers like Target, Walmart, and Amazon all run big back-to-school sales in July and August. Sign up for sale alerts and shop then for deeply discounted school supplies, apparel, backpacks, computers and essential electronics.

Back-to-School Shopping - backpack

9. Stick to Necessities

It’s easy to get lured into buying trendy but nonessential supplies. Stick to the basics on your list first, then use any leftover budget for fun extras. Shop for needs, not wants. Avoid impulse buys and say no to your kids’ pleas for the cool new markers or customized binders. Prioritize needs over desires.

Budget-Friendly Tips - Dual pens

10. Buy in Bulk with Other Parents

Splitting bulk packs of school supplies from warehouse stores like Costco with other parents is a smart way to save money. Buy multiple cases of pencils, notebooks, wipes, tissues and other non-perishables to split up. Just compare your school lists first and agree who will buy what.

Shopping List Strategy - bulk facial tissue

11. Swap Hand-Me-Downs

Check with other parents about trading or passing down gently used backpacks, lunch boxes, clothes, shoes, calculators and school gear that still have life in them. Your kids can also swap school clothes and supplies with friends. Hand-me-downs help cut costs.

Online vs. In-Store Prices - kitty lunch kit


Gearing up for back-to-school doesn’t have to drain your wallet. With savvy shopping habits, sticking to a list and budget, and utilizing deals and discounts, you can find everything you need at prices you can afford. What tips do you have for saving money on back-to-school shopping? Let me know!

Back to School Blues: A Dad’s Guide to Helping Your Child Who Doesn’t Like School (thecornydad.com)

Hey there! I'm Allen, but you can call me "The Corny Dad" from Canada. I have a wife and four kiddos. Yep, one's full grown, but they'll always be my babies. When I'm not doing something with my family or playing video games, I'm here, jotting down my bits of wisdom on this blog. From the fun stuff to the parenting chaos, I cover it all. Believe me, with the right attitude, parenting's a smoother ride and I'm here to help.

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