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Save Money on Back to School Shopping

School supplies never did come cheap. And, like most consumer goods, back to school supplies are only getting more expensive. Those long classroom lists can add up faster than you think. In fact, most high school math classes require calculators that can cost over $100 alone! 


But with a little extra planning and thought this year, you can save money on your child’s back to school needs. Check out our six greater money saving tips to get started.

See What You Already Have at Home

As long as this isn’t your child’s first year of school, chances are you have supplies left over from last school year, or even several years back. Take some time to sift through old pencil boxes and backpacks to decide what’s worth keeping for another year and to help shorten the list of new supplies to buy. You’d rather discover that unopened box of #2 pencils before you go to the store than find it after as you go to fill the backpack.

Stick to the List

If your child only has one classroom the whole year, the back to school supply list should be pretty easy to stick to. However, if you have a middle schooler or high school student, that typically brings about various classroom settings throughout the day with each teacher requiring specific materials. (What’s required for your child’s 8th Grade Earth Science is most definitely not on the list of 8th Grade English classroom mandatories.) 


More specific lists can mean more confusion (and budget-crunching) for parents. Before you start shopping, read each list carefully. Then make your own comprehensive, easy-to-understand list. And remember, you may need to make separate stops, so planning your route can help you save even more.

Shop the Sales

Back to school sales are a big deal, and have many parents waiting to grab the latest and greatest for the lowest price. One way you can get ahead of the sales is by setting up alerts for your favorite back to school stores. Many stores have their own app you can download where they offer notifications on new or upcoming deals. This is also a great place to keep an eye out for coupons on items throughout your list. If you’re an avid Target shopper, the company allows their customers to sign up for Target Circle to receive exclusive deals items each day.

Prioritize Certain Items

It’s OK to make multiple shopping trips before and even throughout the school year depending on what items need prioritizing. If some supplies aren’t needed until the middle of the year, there’s no rush to add them to your bill ahead of time. To help yourself out, make a note of what is most important and when so you can budget accordingly.

Decide Where to Place Value

Just because something might cost less, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll save money.  For instance, if your child’s backpack keeps falling apart every other month, that’s more money you’ll sink in the long run replacing it. The same principle applies to shoes and clothing as well, especially if you plan for certain items to be hand-me-downs for younger siblings. A good deal doesn’t always equal good value. Make sure when shopping sales, you keep quality in mind.

Check the Used Items Market

Many school supplies are only really used throughout one school year—that’s the bad news. The good news is you’re more likely to find lightly used or second-hand supplies available. Items like these can still work just like new, at half the cost of retail. Check out sites like Facebook Marketplace for items like backpacks and calculators being sold by other parents near you. You can also try Mercari to browse and ship items to you. 

Did You Take Notes?

Just because your child’s school supply list may look long and costly, doesn’t mean it has to break the bank. Remember to take some extra time to plan out a list, gather coupons, prioritize, and search different platforms for all your child’s back to school needs.