How to Save Money on Back to School Items

How to Save Money on Back to School Items
  • Opening Intro -

    Public schools across the nation are reopening in August and September, ending a 10-week hiatus for students, parents and teachers alike.

    As the economy continues to show signs of slipping into another recession, America's families must find ways to save when purchasing back to school supplies which can cost hundreds of dollars per student.


Back to school savings for families

Fortunately, there are many ways that consumers can save, tips we have outlined here:

Tax Free Weekend

– States across America offer tax free weekends, allowing shoppers to buy needed school supplies and forgo paying sales tax, yielding savings of up to 8 percent. If your state has such a weekend, you can find out when it will be held by visiting your state’s commerce website.

Sales Galore

– In conjunction with tax free weekend, but also held for several weeks leading up to the start of school, retailers are offering some of the best sales of the year. Spiral bound notebooks priced from 10 for $1 and 10, erasers for 25 cents, pencil packs for a dime, and 20 percent or more off of clothing are common ways to save. Look for online and print coupons to enjoy further savings.

Swap or Donate

– Gently used notebooks, backpacks and supplies can be traded among families or a book bag passed down to a younger sibling. Check with friends to see if swapping can be done. If you’re short on funds, local ministries will sometimes provide select school supplies for free. Local thrift shops are great places to go to find sneakers, a desk or books.

Save on Snacks

– School food is usually fattening and not particularly healthy for your child. You can purchase low calorie snacks and offer these instead. Consider making your purchase at a big box retailer such as Target, K-Mart or Wal-Mart. Buy in bulk through BJs, Sam’s Club or Costco to stock up and save. Brown bag lunches to ensure the best food at a good price.

Delay Your Purchases

– Many schools offer lists of items students are expected to bring in, supplies that schools mandate. Those lists, however, are often guidelines and may not necessitate you buying each item. If you can wait until school starts to buy what you need, you can scratch off from that list items your child’s teacher says she won’t need.

Use a Rewards Card

– Never use credit to buy more than what you need, but use credit to make refunds easier to accomplish and to gain desired points or cash back toward future purchases. Simply pay off your credit card bill when it arrives to avoid interest charges.

Most schools offer free or reduced lunch programs with some offering breakfast. If you’re in a financial bind, your child may be eligible for assistance, providing an extra measure of help until you’re back on your feet.


Kiplinger: 10 Tips for Back-to-School Savings; Cameron Huddleston; July 30, 2010

CNN Money: Back to School Savings Guide; Gerri Willis; August 8, 2005

ABC Action News: Back-to-school on a Budget: 10 Ways to Save; Maria Tomasch; August 3, 2011

Money Management reference:

other cost saving tips

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Last update on 2020-03-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


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Categories: Budgeting

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".