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5 ways to save on back to school shopping

Back to school shopping is upon us – are you ready to save some money?!

With all of the clothes, and backpacks, and lunch boxes, and pencils and crayons and everything else that comes with back to school time – there need to be some easy ways to save money, don’t you think? Back to school shopping can be really expensive if you’re not careful.

Here are 5ways that you can save on back to school shopping.

Save on Back to School Shopping

1. Use what you have

Before you head out to the store to go shopping, take an inventory of what you already have on hand. Do you really need to buy your kids new clothes? Maybe they just need a few warm sweaters and some new socks. Is a new backpack really necessary, or will last year’s bag does just fine?

I’m sure that some of your kids’ school supplies can be reused from the year before (and if this is the first year of school for them, they probably don’t even need to bring any school supplies).

Don’t spend money on things that are brand new when you have perfectly good items sitting at home to be used!

2. Make a list

Once you’ve decided what you can reuse from the previous school year, you can start filling in the gaps.

Make a list of everything needed for back to school. For example:

  • Shirts
  • Pants
  • Sweaters
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Shoes
  • Backpack
  • Lunch box
  • Markers
  • Pencil Crayons
  • Crayons
  • Pens & Pencils
  • Pencil Case
  • Notebooks
  • Binders
  • Erasers
  • Calculators

These are just a few examples. Ask your child what they need for school, or check the school’s website to see if they have a list of items that children are required to bring with them on their first day.

3. Buy used

Clothing should always be bought used whenever you can’t get brand-new items for the same price.

Check out your local thrift stores, online classifieds like Kijiji & Craigslist, Facebook buys & sell groups, and of course – ask your friends and family.

I don’t suggest buying socks, shoes, or underwear used, but everything else can easily be purchased second-hand to save you money.

4. Check out dollar stores

You can find so many great deals at dollar stores these days – especially school supplies!

They even have brand name items now, and the prices are often much better than what you’d pay at an office supply or big box store.

Check out notebooks, binders, calculators, paper clips, highlighters, pens, pencils, pencil sharpeners, markers, crayons, lined paper, and much more! You can get pretty much everything you need with just one trip to the dollar store.

5. Watch for the loss leaders

Almost all stores advertise “loss leaders” in their weekly flyers – these are the items that are marked down so much, that the store doesn’t make a profit on them. They are only offering them this low to get you into the store, with the hope that you’ll buy other items while you’re there.

You can find loss leaders on the front page of flyers, and some prices you can often expect are:

  • Lined Paper, 200 Packs @ $0.10-$0.15
  • Crayola Crayons, 24 Packs @ $0.65
  • Packs of Pens & Pencils & under $1
  • Report Covers @ $0.10
  • Crayola Markers & Pencil Crayons @ under $1
  • Glue Sticks @ $0.25
  • Erasers @ $0.25
  • Pencil Sharpeners @ $0.25

Be a smart shopper and only purchase the loss leaders – then get out of there and wait until next week, when even more loss leaders become available!

Back to school shopping doesn’t have to be an expensive chore. Just remember that this is the time of year that stores are trying to get you to spend more money – you need to be very resistant to that desire, and to do that, you need to shop wisely.

Follow the tips above and you can easily save money on back to school shopping – purchasing everything you need for back to school for a fraction of the regular retail price!

How do you save money on back to school shopping?


  1. Nic

    I’ve saved so much from shopping early, shopping with EBates and always waiting for free shipping and a discount online. I received a additional 40% roots just recently and a free bag, 30%off already reduced items at Gap, 50% off at bench and yesterday I ordered from Walmart and scored a bunch of Crayola products for $3. There was also sharpies 20x for 8.99 from an anniversary sale. I think I’ve done really good so far. 🙂

  2. Julia @ Save Big, Live Better!

    Some great tips here! It’s always helpful to have price listings to give people an idea of how low that price will actually go before they jump in too early and end up seeing it priced lower the next week;)
    It’s incredible how low they will go with pricing on school supplies!

  3. Missus

    Consider stocking up for your household needs as well during the school supplies sales.
    I buy extra paper and pens for the family to use at home throughout the year.

  4. Holly

    Don’t buy pencils from the dollar store, they sharpen horribly! Everything else great 🙂 buy some extras, in march when Johnny cones home and needs more pencils/glue/markers you’ll be glad to not pay full price.

  5. christina

    After the school year starts everything is on sale usualy for atleast 50% – 75% off and stock up on all supplies for the next year or if my kids run out of something thru the year I usually have it on hand so not paying arm and a leg.

  6. Nicole

    I like to get pencils, rulers, pencil cases from promotions (eg Chapman’s kids club, contests, giveaways) that way it doesn’t cost me money & kids have ‘special items’ and get a special treat when they arrive in the mail!

    • Cassie Howard

      Great tip, Nicole!

  7. Meghan

    This is a great article! I especially loved the section on loss leaders. I have already used that to start my stockpile for my kids who are only 2.5 years old!

    I would LOVE to see more posts that include the rock bottom prices of loss leaders please!

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