Back to School Shopping for Less

Many of us are just starting to enjoy the summer, yet back-to-school sales are in full swing right now. As a child, back-to-school shopping was always a fun time for me. I remember the excitement of getting all new notebooks, pens, pencils and more. Since I wore a uniform, my family didn’t have to worry about shopping for a lot of back-to-school clothes. But for a growing child, there were always shirts, shoes or other items to replace.

This is the first year I will be sending one of my children to school. Though my son is only four years old and 4K only meets half days, I’ve slowly but surely realized the expense of sending children to school. The experience will be different from my own as he will not be wearing a uniform and I have no previous school gear. So I have been researching ways to save money and developed a strategy to make sure I shop back-to-school for less:

School Supplies and Gear

Fortunately, many office supply stores, big box stores and even drug stores recognize that back-to-school shopping is a major event for most families. These stores hold a lot of sales and special discounts, so I plan to start my shopping early. Most back-to-school sales actually begin right now, in July, with stores fighting hard for your business, so shop around for competitive prices on school supplies. Perhaps the best money saving tip will be to only buy what is needed. All those fun and cute extras can quickly bust any budget.
One thing I don’t intend to skimp on is a quality back pack, for this I intend to go for value. Instead of spending money on a cheap backpack I will replace mid-year, investing in quality is the way to go. I also plan to take advantage of in-store or online coupons and discounts to help stretch my dollars.

School Clothes

My strategy for saving on back-to-school clothes is to shop late and wait for deeper discounts later in the fall. Seek bargain clothes at the outlet stores, consignment shops, and garage sales to save big.

One final tip: find out whether your state offers sales tax holidays. Shopping for big ticket items on the right day can help you save on sales taxes. This table by the Federation of Tax Administrators lists states and dates when sales tax holidays are offered.

Back-to-school shopping doesn’t need to bust your family’s budget. With a bit of smart and timely shopping you can make it a fun experience for you and your children.

Lots of us are gearing up for school – an exciting, fun and sometimes, hectic time. Hallmark has put together this great resource to help you calm the butterflies and build your kids’ confidence. Just for joining the conversation you’ll be entered to win $500. Check it out.
This conversation and upcoming $100 Gift Card giveaway sponsored by Hallmark.

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  • kristie speakman

    Just a note on backpacks, buy one with a lifetime replacement policy (like jansport) & save the tag & receipt. 4 or 5 years down the road when it rips or the zipper goes out send it in for a replacement.

  • Erin

    About backpacks – I bought my step-twins LL Bean backpacks 5 years ago when they started 4k for the weeks they are at our house (every other week). They are now entering 4th grade and the backpacks are still going strong unlike the crappy character bags their mom buys them every year – those are falling apart half way through the year. I bought our 5 year old his first LL Bean last year for 4k and plan on buying our youngest his in two years whe he starts 4k. However – I got all of these in May or June when they were on clearance for $13 or so and used a free shipping code. Although that is a great price, I still think they are worth the full price when you consider how long they will last!

    HAve fun back to school shopping. I love it myself…there is something about the smell of new crayons that just takes me back!

  • Marcia

    In WI there is a law about min mark up.. This means that stores can not sell things, such as school supplies, for less then cost. Stores will do this as a loss lender. We are 1 of 4 states that do this. IL does not have this law so I think I may be doing some of my shopping in IL this year!

  • Kim

    I want to second the LL Bean back packs. My daughter is 18. She got a back pack when she was 7 or 8. She STILL has that back pack. Now in all fairness she hasn’t used it as much as some students (homeschooler) but she has used it a log. Any back pack that lasts for close to 10 years impresses me. She wants a new one but not because there is anything wrong with this one. I am amazed!

  • ilja

    I went to Meijer!
    And got a lot of school supplies I know its early to even thing about school supplies but they were the low’s price they could ever be!

    Thing’s i bought:
    (60) of them – 1 Subject Notebooks!
    Cost:5 cents each
    (10)of them- box’s of Cranyons!
    each box 19 cents! If you get 2 box’s you get the third one 1 cent!
    Cost:19 cents each
    (5) of them- Liquid school elmer’s glue!
    Cost:19 cents each
    (3) of them – 3 Packs of elmer’s glue sticks!
    Cost:19 cents each
    (3) of them- index cards!
    Cost:45 cents each, third one 1 cent!
    (2) of them – Markers!
    Cost:75 cents each
    at meijer and walmart the markers are 75 cents each

    All This Cost me:

    Not bad I saved $68.00 and some cents!

  • ilja

    Got more to buy! I would like to know when should i buy the rest
    of the school supplies like ruler’s, back pak’s,and much more!
    And what store’s should i go to get the best prices!


  • Leah Rockwell

    I too loved going to buy school supplies growing up. I have several favorite memories of school supply shopping. My mom would take my brothers and myself to Office Depot to shop. (She didn’t do couponing at the time). Although we always had plenty of pens and pencils, folders, binders, etc. left over in our supply cabinet, I ALWAYS had to buy EVERYTHING on my list every summer. And of course I had to have the bright colors 🙂 I still to this day LOVE buying school supplies…esp. the colored pens. Although I do not have any kids (yet), I would love the giftcard so that I could stock up for the future, and also give away supplies to families and schools in need. Some people really do not have the resources to buy school supplies…and for multiple kids.

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  • Abby

    One thing I remember about going back to school was going shopping for new clothes with my mom and then picking out my favorite cute outfit to wear the night before the first day of school. When I would go to bed I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep for hours because I would just lay there thinking about what may happen the next day.

  • Lee

    I teach and look forward to the Teacher Appreciation Day at the local Staples store. They have free surprises for teachers and good sales.

  • Jamie

    My favorite memory of going back to school is going shopping with my grandma, mom, aunt and sister to buy dresses for the first week of school. My sister and I went to a Catholic school and we wore uniforms every day except for the first week of school. I can’t wait to school supply for my niece. She’s only two so I have a few years.

  • Carrie

    During the summer my son will sleep as long as possible. But when it is the first day of school he is up bright eyed and bushie tailed at 6 am, looking for the perfect pencil for his first day of school.

  • Sarah

    I always enjoyed getting my school supplies and packing up my back pack for the first day of school. This memory has carried over into my adult life as well. I am currently a junior high teacher and you wouldn’t believe how much I enjoy getting my new supplies for my classroom. I usually stock up with school supplies for my class and then the students can buy supplies from me if they run out midyear, and the students think that is the neatest thing. I tell the students that the supplies are cheapest at the beginning of the year, so it is a good time to stock up. School supply shopping is sort of like Christmas shopping to me.

    My students get very excited about their new supplies as well. They are very excited to use their new supplies. The excitement doesn’t last long, but for a few weeks they do enjoy the newness!

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