10 Ways to Not Go Broke Buying School Supplies

10 Ways to Not Go Broke Buying School Supplies

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Back to school shopping has begun. Whether your kiddos are going back to school 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 much longer 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?


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 are able to say no.

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 own successful blog. I’ve been doing it for about four years now so I have a good idea of what is 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 it 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. 


Use What You Have

The first thing you need to do is similar to how I save money on my groceries each week. In this case, it’s how we can save money on back to school supplies.


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

I bought the higher quality brand called yoobi of a folder and my daughter is going to 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, right here in the U.S.  Target carries this brand.

Scissors is a common item on back to school supply lists. Do they really 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. It is our culture to grumble and complain about the rising costs of school supplies, but it us the consumers who go out and buy everything brand new.

Saving money on seasonal items means you need to plan. 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. You will be amazed at what thrift stores like Goodwill have for school supplies when summer starts.

When clean out is taking place I’ve found unopened packs of construction paper notebooks, crayons and more. 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 have to probably shop a size up or for the next season but the prices are cheap.

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. 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 here to search for specific coupons when you are shopping.



Shop Early

When you start shopping early you can get the best price for items one by one.  I try to never 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 a way to far apart. Or if you have all five of the 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 really 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 be sure to 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 extra 30% off plus kohls cash deals.  There aren’t too many coupons for school supplies, but just this past weekend there were coupons to save on Five-star items.

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 you are shopping online. This can be a big saver for clothing and shoes. Which is 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 one 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 the backpack they have. Buy a high-quality backpack so they can reuse it.

My daughter is using 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 BJs and Costco to have clearance on backpacks in July.

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

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 try to remember that we only have a few more times to do this with them. Don’t let the experience slip away.

I know I can get so caught up in my coupons and items on sale, that I forget to just 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 do get incredibly excited when my oldest daughter comes over to me and has a huge smile, saying “Mommy, this is FREE!” She is learning the value of money and the excitement of deals!

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