5 Money-Saving Tips For Back To School Shopping

“The average household will spend an average of 200$ per kid back to school shopping.”

No matter where or what school you go to, you're going to need supplies to be able to do well in school.

Every year, until you or your kids are 18, school supply shopping, will be arriving around the same time every September.

From pencils to backpacks, notebooks and calculators it’s all going to cost money, with the school supply industry making around 82 billion dollars a year.

As it might be cheaper to get school supplies when you're in the younger years, the cost continues to grow each year. Even after you're done your final year in high school, the costs of the supplies you need if you go to post-secondary are going to double if not triple the regular.

School supplies and clothing have become a financial nightmare for many parents and students because the costs of goods rise each year and the demand for more, newer things always is being pushed.

But, like everything in the world, there’s always going to be a different way of doing something. This article below contains the 5 best money-saving tips for back to school shopping.

1. Buy In Advance or Buy Late

Like I mentioned before, there’s almost a certain season that back to school shopping fits into, which usually stretches from the beginning of August to the middle of September. This is when most bigger supply sellers brace in to make their profits.

When stores can anticipate when a wave will begin, they’ll begin to order their huge supplies to meet the consumers' needs. As the school supply season comes, the big flashy red signs saying SALE come out to try and get consumers to buy as much product as they can, at prices often not even that good.

With every wave, there’s going to be an end. It may seem like buying when the sale sign is out is the best option, when it’s actually when the sale sign leaves are the best time.

After all, the demand has left and school starts, the need for the stores to keep their stock diminishes. Stores usually want to get rid of their stock because they ended up ordering so much surplus that the real deals end up emerging.

Although it may not be the most convenient time to buy your supplies after school starts provide the best opportunity to get the most bang for your buck.

You can often find items at a 10-20% discount on the normal price, which in my opinion is well worth the wait. There’s no set way that I could find that was best, but there are essentially two ways of buying in the good price alley.

You could either wait a week or two after school starts to go shopping, which is okay but the problem emerges that you or your kid is going to have to go that amount of time without school supplies.

The other option is buying your supplies for next year this year, which will work but I find that unless you have a vault to store them in, I and my family end up tapping into the store before the year comes up.

I personally find that waiting awhile is the better option of the two, and as long as you save some of your stuff from last year, you’ll be good to go.

2. Save Your Old Stuff

No matter what age you may be, at the end of the year, there’s always going to be something that you don’t end up using when it comes to school supplies. Over time, these little extra items have a way of building up, to the point where you won’t even need to buy them anymore.

This is what you're looking for, the extra items that they require you to buy each year, but you never end up even using. Take highlighters, for example, a pack of 3 will cost around 7 dollars and if you're like me you’ll never even USE the highlighters.

I ended up just stopping buying highlighters all together and just started reusing them year in and year out. Other items like scissors, pencil sharpeners (as long as they aren’t dull), calculators are all items that can be just a one time purchase.

Another item that schools nowadays recommend you have a new one each year is a flash drive. Now, a half-decent flash drive is going to cost anywhere from 10 to 20 dollars, and there’s no reason that you need to buy one each year.

The same goes for zip-up binders. They can be pretty pricey, but buying good quality binders are worth their money because as long as you don’t fill them too heavy (I learned this the hard way) one set will last you most of your school career.

As long as you take care of your supplies or teach your kids to take care of their things, there should be plenty of supplies left for the next year.

3. Use The Dollar Store, But Be Wary

As awesome as Walmart is for finding great deals on just about everything, there’s something that can be found at better prices than the blue giant can offer.

In general, the dollar store items are a gamble for terms of quality but they do have the odd diamond in the rough. There’s a lot of things that I actually would recommend buying at full price because of the quality that you get (like calculators and binders) but it’s great for the little things that the quality doesn’t really matter on.

I’m talking about pens and the little nick-nacks that every kid or young adult wants in their lockers. I chose to talk about pens because the dollar stores carry the same box of blue and black pens that Walmart does, but for around 50 cents cheaper. Pens are an item that is better cheap because there’s no difference in quality terms whatsoever with the more expensive ones.

The dollar store is also a gold mine for all those little trinkets and random things that everyone loves to have. From locker hanging pen baskets to small little locker mirrors, the dollar store is the best place to pick them up. Other supply stores do carry them too, but they again like to jack the prices way up when it doesn’t really need to.

If you do choose to go to the dollar store for shopping, beware because some items that you can buy for cheaper fit the saying “Made in China”. From my past experience, buying pencils, erasers, binders, and sharpeners are not worth the purchase because they are junk.

4. Buy In Bulk At Wholesalers

Sometimes the deals aren’t in the small packages but in the larger ones. I mentioned in number three that I don’t recommend buying pencils and erasers at the dollar store, and that’ strictly because they are junk there. But the one place where I find it’s great to buy these is at wholesalers.

Inperticuler, Costco has better deals on larger amounts of supplies than Walmart does, and the quality is much much better. When you buy bigger amounts of something, the price for the individual items goes down.

An example being if there’s a package of mechanical pencils that has 36 in it for 20 dollars, the price per item would be 0.55 cents per pencil, vs a package that you could find at Walmart for 10 dollars that had 12 mechanical pencils in it, which the price per item would be 0.83 cents.

This difference between buying in may seem like a small amount, but over time as you buy more and more the do start to add up.

Yes, the pack of 36 does have a higher price upfront, but the fact that the quality is so much better and combined with a cheaper price per item value it’s well worth the buy, especially if you don’t use all those 36 pencils you’ll have enough for next year.

5. Choose Quality Over Price

This whole article I’ve been saying that picking the school supplies that are the cheapest is going to be your best bet, which still is true. I've also been saying that buying quality is crucial, so crucial that it can even save you money.

When you buy the cheapest things all the time, it heightens the possibility that your item might break. When your item you use often keeps breaking, you're going to have to go out and keep replacing it over and over, and before you know it you might have double if not tripled what you paid for something.

Whereas if you just bought the item that costs more but is of much better quality, you’d avoid paying the same price over and over

In my personal experience, paying more upfront for binders and backpacks are always going to be worth it. Cheap binders have a terrible habit of tearing and ripping halfway into the semester, and before you know it you’re on your way back to the store to buy more.

The same goes for backpacks. Whether it be the zipper breaking to the straps falling off, sometimes it’s just worth it to buy something at the full price. Conveniently, Costco has great deals for each of these items that come out right around the primetime of the school shopping season.


Like the seasons, school shopping comes and goes. Prices will change and quality will vary, but once you know where to look you‘ll never have to price match again.

From buying the cheap stuff at the dollar store to buying good stuff at Costco, all 5 of these money-saving tips are the best starters to allow you to spend less and save more each year.

I know from my past experience that being a cheap guy can be great, it can also backfire on you at the exact wrong moment when you won’t be expecting it. Buying quality stuff is always going to be the best option out there, especially when it lasts more than one year.

If you liked the article feel free to share it with friends and family, as it would really help me out.

Until next time,


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