Plan & Save on Back to School Shopping

It seems like stores are already stocking Back to School supplies and pushing those first day of school outfits before we can even get our boxes unpacked from the summer PCS, let alone enjoy all of the summer days in full.  And some days, if you are like me, the first day of school cannot come soon enough!

Back to school shopping can be a huge budget buster with all the paper, pencils, markers, tissues, new shoes (how do they need new shoes already!), and all the other items that come with a new grade or new school, sometimes even a new state or country!  If you are stateside and don’t take advantage of your post exchange, many states offer Tax Free weekends to help families save on the typical back to school purchases, such as supplies and clothes.  You can search online to see if your state has one, or check out this website for a consolidated list.

Back to School time is one of those recurring expenses that we can plan for in order for our budgets to survive.  If you haven’t read about Freedom Accounts to use in conjunction with budgeting, check our blog here. If you don’t have a Freedom Account just yet, don’t stress.  

Here are a few more ideas on how to save some money on Back to School needs:

Shop from what you already have.

Once you have your school supply list from your children’s school(s), grab a box or a bag and collect all the supplies you have. Take inventory of what is on hand.  If you are a school supply hoarder like me, you may already have most of the supplies your children need for the upcoming school year. Often items like pens, pencils, erasers, glue sticks and more, come in multi-packs that are not consumed in one year.  On a rainy day or day where is it is just too hot to go outside, go shopping for the supplies on the list from the items you already have instead of buying more.  Incorporate your kids in the shopping by having them mark items off the list, or by putting their items together.

Buy from thrift shop, consignment, and secondhand stores, or swap with friends.

Do they really need new clothing items for school? See what fits and what is worn out and then decide what must be replaced.  It could be that most items are in pretty good shape, or can be easily found at consignment shops.  Maybe decide to spring for that first day of school outfit, new shoes, or a few versatile pieces that can used many times.  Often, what they are currently wearing will work through the first month or so of school.

When you do buy, buy quality.

This may seem counter-intuitive, but purchasing quality, durable items will save your hard-earned money in the long run.   When purchasing items such as backpacks, calculators, and other standard supplies that can last for years, you will save money in the long run because you won’t have to keep replacing the poorer quality items every year.

Buy a little at a time or buy in bulk.

There are certain items that are staples when it comes to school supplies.  You know the ones that are perennial teacher requirements.  If you pick up a few of the school supply staples each time you visit the store, the bite to your budget won’t seem quite as big.  Conversely, back to school time is also time when folders, lined paper, pencils, and other supplies can be purchased in great quantities at an amazing discount.  Go ahead a pick up a few extra if you have room in your budget this week.  You’ll be glad next year when you are shopping from your inventory at back to school time.


How do you save on Back to School shopping? What are your best tips and tricks?