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10 Ways to Not Go Broke Buying School Supplies

Back-to-school shopping has begun. So whether your kiddos are going back to school at the end of August or sometime in September, retailers are stocked and ready now with school supply deals.

You don’t want to wait too long, or you won’t find the supplies you need, only fall decor and Christmas ornaments.

Each year when my kids go back to school, I try to think about ways to not fall into the hype of buying items that aren’t on sale and aren’t things we need.

The girls and I enter Target and drift right through the One Spot after grabbing a cart. I’m in one section, and the other two girls are in another.

“Oh look Mommy.”

“Oh, that’s so cute.”

How much is it?

“$2.”

Throws it in the cart. That’s a deal!

This is a similar situation I’m sure many can relate to. It takes commitment and practice to work the spending muscle in a way you can say no.

how to save money on school supplies

Needs and wants. I’ve talked a lot more about those two powerful words here.

I’m thankful for running a coupon blog. Coupon/deal blogging is how I started my successful blog. I’ve been doing it for about four years, so I have a good idea of a deal and what’s not.

In fact, you can download a free School Supply Stock up List here.

If you look at the prices of those school supplies, you can compare them to the sale price you see at your local store and know if you are getting a deal or not.

Here’s how you can save on school supplies. 

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Use What You Have

The first thing you need to do is to save money on your groceries each week. But, in this case, it’s how we can save money on back-to-school supplies.

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Go through your craft drawer and see what you already have.

I bought the higher-quality brand, yoobi of a folder, and my daughter will use it again next year. The company also gives back to the community. For every Yoobi item you buy, a Yoobi item is donated to a classroom in need; in the U.S., Target carries this brand.

Scissors are a common item on back-to-school supply lists. But do they take that much wear and tear? If the scissors still work, use them again.

Remind Yourself It Doesn’t Have to Be New.

Let your kids know they don’t need something new every year. Our culture is to grumble and complain about the rising costs of school supplies, but the consumers go out and buy everything brand new.

Saving money on seasonal items means you need to plan. For example, when you know that your kids will be heading back to school every August, you can start to prepare in advance.

That means NOT going the week or two before school starts. However, when summer starts, you will be amazed at what thrift stores like Goodwill have for school supplies.

I’ve found unopened packs of construction paper notebooks, crayons, and more when clean-out occurs. It doesn’t hurt to check your thrift stores.

Always check out the online thrift stores too! Like ThredUp and Schoola. Where you buy used clothes online for less!

Yard sales are another time to check for school supplies. When your kids are little, I have found the best deals on clothes at yard sales for the kids. You probably have to shop a size up or for the next season, but the prices are low.

Minimalism is in! Don’t be afraid to reuse something you already have, even if it’s not brand new. Our culture has everything we need in such easy reach we forget that we don’t have to buy something new.

Price Compare Everything

Don’t limit yourself to just one store. Instead, watch the sales by following a coupon blog to keep up with the latest deals.

You type in an item you are looking for, and if it’s on sale, it will show up in a nice list from all the retailers who have it on sale and paired with any coupons.

You can check it out here. I would bookmark it because it is so convenient. Or browse through a coupon database like the one I use to search for specific coupons when you are shopping.

Please READ OUR PRICE COMPARISON OF WHOLESALE CLUB TO TARGET FOR SCHOOL DEALS HERE.

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Shop Early

When you start shopping early, you can get the best price for items one by one. For example, I try never to get all the kid’s school supplies at one store, usually because I can check out a couple more and get the best possible price.

Although this may not be ideal for everyone, especially if you live in an area where Walmart, Staples, and Dollar General are way too far apart, or if you have all five kids with you and one store is about all the family can take. I hear you.

Look at the budget and see how much room you have to spend. If your budget says you could use the savings of an extra $10 per child, then make arrangements to shop when you don’t have all the kids.

Or check out online savings and take advantage of free shipping offers.

If you are a Target Redcard holder, you now get FREE two-day shipping, and you’ll save an extra 5% on your purchase.

10 Ways to Not Go Broke Buying School Supplies

Use Coupons & Cashback Rewards

If you are shopping online, use cashback sites like Rakuten ( you can sign up now and get $10 when you spend $25!), or if you are shopping in-store, use your Target Redcard

Check the store’s apps for extra discounts like Target’s frequent extra 20% off clearance apparel cartwheel offer.

Or Kohls’s extra 30% off plus kohls cash deals. There aren’t too many coupons for school supplies, but there were coupons to save on Five-star items just this past weekend.

Again this is when the Coupon database comes in handy. Or you can keep an eye on the Sunday Coupon Preview posts where you see what coupons are coming in your local Sunday newspaper.

Be sure to take advantage of Rakuten or other online savings cashback options when shopping online. This can be a big saver for clothing and shoes, usually the most expensive items in parents’ school budgets.

Start A Swap

Ask your Facebook friends if anyone is interested in swapping school supplies. You never know which of your friends is the crazy couponer and stocked up on lunch boxes and backpacks for a super low price! ( Yes, that’s me! )

Buy a High-Quality Backpack

When your kids start kindergarten, they aren’t too picky about their backpacks. Buy a high-quality backpack so they can reuse it.

My daughter uses the same backpack she had in kindergarten and is going into second grade. If you don’t make getting a new backpack a thing every year, they probably won’t either.

I always find BJB.J.snd Costco to have clearance on backpacks in July.

I gently throw the backpacks in the washing machine a couple of times a year. They look brand new.

Shop Online Thrift Stores

Clothing is one of the most expensive parts of back-to-school shopping. Let me remind you that in 2022- I am finding clothes that are brand new at Goodwill for way less than Walmart.

When you are taking the time to find name-brand quality clothing it is so worth the time investment.

Looking around at yard sales and preparing in advance for clothing is a huge way to save money. This is easier when your kids are younger and you can buy one size up. It gets a bit harder when they are in the teenage years- but it’s so worth shopping used first.

Plus most teens today love the idea of helping the environment and saving money. If you want to shop online try out Thredup.

Oh, and if you are 50 or older you can get a 15% discount at Goodwill on Wednesdays! HAHA Look at what happened to me in this Titkok Video.

10 Ways to Not Go Broke Buying School Supplies

Make it Fun

Before you head out to go school shopping, make it fun. Relax and remember that we only have a few more times to do this with them. Don’t let the experience slip away.

I can get so caught up in my coupons and items on sale that I forget to smile at the girls and have them remember it’s a good experience.

I also can’t deny that being frugal and saving money on everything is in my DNA. We have come so far because of living a frugal lifestyle, and although there is more room in the budget, I still have to learn balance.

I get incredibly excited when my oldest daughter comes over to me with a huge smile, saying, “Mommy, this is FREE!” She is learning the value of money and the excitement of deals!

The best way to save money on back-to-school supplies is by planning ahead and being organized.

You can also find great deals on back-to-school supplies at your local stores by following my tips. Good luck, and have a fun and productive school year!

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