10+ Tips to Save Money on Back to School Shopping

Can you believe that the summer is already in full swing?  This year is flying by!  Many schools in my city start school at the end of July!  With a new year, it is also time to get supplies for school. Back to school shopping can get very expensive if you aren’t careful.  We will be reviewing 10+ tips to save money on back to school shopping.

Families with children in grades K-12 plan to spend over $650 on back to school shopping (when taking in consideration apparel, accessories, electronics, shoes and school supplies)!  Therefore, it is important to find ways to save money on back to school shopping however you can.


Tips to Save Money on Back to School Shopping-2


Check the Current Inventory

Yes, you read that correctly.  Check the current inventory at your house!  Before you even head to the store for school supplies, find out what supplies you (or your child) have laying around the house.  If you are like most families, then I am sure that there are supplies from the previous year that were never used.

In addition, you may have some notebooks that were only partially used.  Don’t let the empty pages in those partially used notebooks go to waste.  I know, I know, you like to start fresh for the new school year; however, if you start using the partially used notebooks, you can get a new notebook when the originals have been completely used.

Make a Budget

The next step to save money on back to school shopping is to make a budget.  It can be tough to start back to school shopping when you haven’t been given a list of the supplies yet; however, there are certain things that are needed every year.  Think of those pens, pencils, notebooks, and binders that are used every year.

Budgeting is especially key for those higher priced items like new book bags or computer bags.  Although last minute emergencies come up, usually you can plan in advance for when you will need a new higher priced item.  If you budget for those items in advance, you can save smaller amounts over time to afford them.

Related: Budget like a Pro with 5 Simple Steps

Price Match

Another tip for saving money on back to school shopping is to price match.  Price matching happens when a rival offers the same product for a lower advertised price.  The company will either match the lower price or refund the difference in price if the customer has already purchased the product.  The following stores offer price matching:

  • Walmart
  • Staples
  • Office Depot/Max
  • Target

Visit Discount Stores

The biggest mistake you can make when back to school shopping is only visiting one store that may be convenient to visit.  Make sure you visit discount stores like the Dollar Tree to see what items you can find for an everyday low price.

Use Coupons

Coupons can be your best friend especially during back to school season.  On Sundays, check your local newspaper for the weekly deals and coupons.  In addition, some retailers will offer online coupons if you sign up to receive regular emails.  As time gets closer to back to school seasons, stores will offer more and more coupons on things you need (and things that you don’t need).  One of the keys to avoiding trouble with couponing is to make sure that you don’t buy unnecessary items because it may be a good deal.


Tips to Save Money on Back to School Shopping

Save the Receipts

If you know me, then you know that I always save receipts.  It is important to save receipts while shopping for school supplies, because you may buy more supplies than you need.  Or you may realize that there was a better alternative than what you bought.  Make sure that you save the receipts when back to school shopping so that you can return or exchange any items that you no longer need.  In addition, check the return policy for any store you decide to patronize.

Shop at Garage Sales

Summer time means that there are garage sales galore!  Although the summer may be coming to an end, there should still be garage sales available in your area.  This is especially a jackpot during back to school time.  Not only can you find back to school supplies for less, but you can also find gently used clothes at a good deal.  Keep your eyes peeled for garage sales in your area and check sites like Craigslist so that you can save money on back to school shopping.

Shop throughout the Year

Now, I am not saying go spend $200 in January for the next school year.  However, the best back to school sales happen during August and then on a smaller scale in January.  If you find things that you know you (or your child) will need for the upcoming school year, consider purchasing them while on sale.  Once again, I wouldn’t suggest going crazy with your purchases too far in advance and I would stick to those necessities that you know will be used.

Check the List

You know, the list?  The long list of essentials that is provided for school aged children.  Even though the list doesn’t come out until close to the start of school (or when school as already started), it is time to check the list.  As long as you followed the previous tip of saving the receipts, you should be able to return or exchange things that you no longer need.

Wait on Non-Essentials

The last way to save money on back to school shopping is to wait to purchase the non-essential items.  Non-essential items are things that aren’t needed during the first few weeks of school.  If your back to school shopping includes shopping for an elementary student, then below are some items that are considered non-essential:

  • Kleenex
  • Protractors
  • Science project supplies

If you wait to buy these items a few weeks after school starts, then you can definitely save money on back to school shopping.


Looking for other ways to save money?  Check out these posts:


How do you save money on back to school shopping?


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  1. I don’t have kids so I don’t have to worry about back to school shopping, but I do take advantage of the cheap notebooks! I go through at least one notebook a month so whenever I can get a bunch of them for cheap I’m all for it!

  2. These are all tips I use when it comes to back to school shopping. It’s amazing to see how much money I save, and I just have one kid!

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