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Money-Saving Ideas for School Supply Shopping

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Whether we like it or not, school supplies can get expensive. From clothes to pencils, it can cost a bundle to send your kids back to school. There are some things you can do, though, to make it less financially painful. Here are some money-saving ideas for school supply shopping.

save money on school supplies

What’s Shared and What’s Not

Back when you were in school, your school supplies were yours, and usually consisted of pencils, pens, notebooks and binders, and paper. The school provided things like dry erase markers, paper towels, and chalk. Schools are cutting their budgets these days, though, so you may find yourself buying supplies that will be shared. Check your local school system’s website or give them a call and find out what supplies will be pooled and which ones will belong to your student.

Save on the Shared Items

If you know an item is going to be shared with the whole class, such as binders or dry erase markers, skip the fancy ones. Go with the more generic, cheap types.

Speaking of Sharing…

Consider buying items in bulk with a group. Find other parents and families who can go in with you to purchase supplies. They tend to be much cheaper in bulk, and buying large amounts and dividing them up can help save some money.


Look for coupons on manufacturer’s and retailer’s websites, and check your local newspaper. Combine the coupons with existing sales, and be willing to move on to the next retailer for the next sale rather than buying all your items at one place.

No Sales Tax

Many areas have a "no sales tax" day when you can buy items without this added tax. This is a good time to buy anything big, such as a small fridge for your college student, or electronics. The bigger the item, the more you save on sales tax. (This is another good time to buy in bulk with friends and family.)  You can find the list of back to school tax free weekend dates here.

Don’t Forget the Dollar Store

Do you have a store where "everything’s a dollar"? If so, go there! You might be able to find a lot of school supplies for a fraction of what you’d pay at a major retailer.

Start Early

There are a couple of advantages to starting your back-to-school shopping early. For one thing, you are more likely to get the supplies you want and need while stock is still plentiful. Another advantage to starting early is the sale prices. May stores have school supplies discounted early, while it’s still in the middle of summer.

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Allison B

Monday 4th of August 2014

I keep my kid's list with me so I can pop into stores when I'm out and about. Over the course of 4 weeks Office Max has offered everything on my list as a loss leader item except the baby wipes, Kleenex, and hand sanitizer. I was able to buy everything at the lowest price, even better than the dollar store. I know some people wouldn't want to try that hard, but with 3 kids it's worth the effort.

Tiffany Walker

Monday 4th of August 2014

All great ideas, thank you. I go crazy with school supplies. I love buying new school supplies because of the prices. When crayola crayons are on sale for 25cents, I stock up. What you buy in the summer for school, don't last all school year plus they get used at home to by my toddler. 5 years ago when my oldest started school, there was one subject noteboos in a bundle of 10 for $1. I bought like 10 of those bundles. I havent seen it all that price again. But I still have some left and it saves me money now.

Florence C

Monday 4th of August 2014

Great tips. My children loved going to get new supplies. Starting early do save lots of money.


Wednesday 16th of July 2014

Thanks for the great ideas! We're planning on homeschooling and starting with preschool this year so we don't have a school supply list but I always use the back to school sales to stock up on crayons, construction paper, etc. and the tax free weekend is always a bit hit around here :)

Thanks for adding this to Mom's Library! It's one of my features this week!

Mary Beth @ Cupcakes and Crinoline

Monday 7th of July 2014

These are great tips! I've already started putting away some school supplies for my guys...they don't know yet (shhhh!). Thanks so much for sharing at Project Inspire{d}. Have a wonderful week! Pinning :)

Kelli Miller

Wednesday 9th of July 2014

Do your kids love getting new supplies as much as mine do?