Budget-Friendly Tips for Back To School
I confess, shopping for school supplies is one of my favorite things. I look forward to it every year. I know, it’s pretty dorky, but stationary, paper planners and office supplies make me happy. I know I’m not the norm. I also know that shopping for back to school supplies for more than one child can get expensive. I get a little thrill out of being super budget conscious so I’m a deal hunter come back to school shopping season.
The interesting thing about my son’s school is that school supplies are communal and they request name brand (no Rose Art, yes Crayola). If you don’t shop sales, that can get expensive! His school is a Title 1 school so I imagine this has to do with ensuring all students have access to the same supplies.
I completely support this and usually try to send in extra supplies when it fits our budget. Since I like to buy extra supplies, I am a total deal hunter from late July through mid-August.
Of course, back to school doesn’t just mean school supplies. They need some new clothes for the new year. I went to private school for 12 years so I get pretty excited about getting my son new school clothes. That being said, I don’t buy it all at once.
I usually start picking up stuff as they go on sale or when I’m out and set them aside for back to school. I have bought several pairs of brand-name running shorts (his favorite) from stores like Marshalls and Ross that I’ve been holding on to for the beginning of the school year. The key is, don’t let them wear them and destroy them over the summer.
Budget Friendly Back to School
If you are overwhelmed by back to school shopping on a budget, here are some of my money saving tips. Fair warning: this requires a time investment. Since I love school supply shopping, I don’t mind spending time to stay in budget, but you may prefer to pay more for convenience.
- Check the Weekly Ads: If you don’t get the Sunday newspaper, go online and peruse the sale flyers for Office Depot, Staples, Target and Big Lots. They usually have deep discounts on school supplies. For example, this week, Office Depot has a box of 12 Ticonderoga pencils for $1 (Target has them for $2.79). Don’t just assume Target is the cheapest. Staples and Office Depot also have frequent sales on notebooks and binders for less than $.25 each. I always buy a few extra to send in for my son’s classmates who don’t have supplies.
- Keep Your List Handy: I have a photo of my school supply list on my phone. That way, if I’m shopping somewhere, I can stroll through the office/school supply aisles to see if they have anything on my list on sale.
- Don’t Skip Discount Stores: Big Lots carries back to school items this time of year. Recently, they had notebooks for $.17 each. I also get my son’s backpack from a discount store like Marshalls or TJ Maxx every year. He likes super hero backpacks and I don’t really want to spend a lot of money on something like that. I have always been able to find the right super hero backpack at a discount store for around $12.99. They don’t just have kid-friendly backpacks this time of year. I just bought a solid blue Jansport backpack for day trips since our old backpack was looking well, old.
- Shop Shoes Early: Last year, I made the mistake of shopping for back to school shoes just before school started and ended up paying $55 for the only pair of shoes we could find. I will never make that mistake again! My son is so hard on his shoes that we couldn’t just keep using his current pair with holes in it. If you want to get budget-friendly school shoes, check the weekly ads and shop early. I bought Under Armor shoes two weeks ago for $28. I also love Nordstrom Rack for kids’ shoes. I can usually get Nike shoes for around $30 or Stride Rite (for my 4 year old) for $25. The challenge is, the stock moves quickly so if you wait too long, there may not be much left.
- Hold Off On Back To School Clothes: Unless you catch a great sale, you might want to hold off on buying a full back to school wardrobe too early. It doesn’t get cooler here until very late (SoCal), so I can usually buy pants and long sleeve shirts after they’ve gone on clearance in October. If you need a few pieces to get by, pick them up when they’re on sale but don’t buy the entire wardrobe until most of the stuff goes on clearance (unless of course, your kids are picky about clothing). Fortunately, my boys don’t care what they wear.
Favorite Stores for Budget Back To School
Here are my favorite budget-friendly stores to shop for back to school items. If you haven’t checked them out, give them a try to see if they save you money.
- Nordstrom Rack (particularly for shoes)
- Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, Ross (socks, underwear, basics)
- Carter’s (during their 50% off sales)
- H&M (their hoodies hold up extremely well and are always buy 2 get 1 free)
- Office Depot
- Big Lots
- Target (be sure to comparison shop – they aren’t always cheapest)
These are my go-to stores for back to school on a budget. I’m always on the lookout for deals since my boys (my oldest in particular) are so hard on their clothes. We go through 3 – 6 pairs of shoes a school year and it isn’t due to him outgrowing them, they are usually completely torn up, no matter what brand.
What are your favorite budget-friendly stores for shopping?