How to Save Money on Back to School Supplies

It’s almost time for school to start again, and parents everywhere are looking for ways to save money on back to school.

save money on back to school

Now, in full disclosure, we homeschool. But whether you homeschool or attend a school outside of the home, there are still a lot of expenses. If you are a homeschooling family and need some cheap homeschool curriculum options, check out this post here.

However, my kids did go to public school a few years ago for a short time and so we definitely learned how to save money for the expenses that come with that. But whether my kids went to public school or are homeschooled, I’ve had to shop for a ton of school supplies over the years.

Every year I head to the store to do some back to school shopping, and I start to feel dizzy at all the aisles and prices. When did school supplies become so costly? When did everything back-to-school become so expensive?  Why do they need so much?

And, of course, if you have multiple children, well, it can add up quickly!

But, just like most areas of our lives, there are ways you can save money when shopping for back-to-school.  You just need to be savvy about it.

Personally, when I was growing up I always loved when it was back-to-school time. I was one of those kids who loved school and loved seeing my friends. Summer often dragged on too long for me!

Now, as a parent I also love back-to-school because while I adore the lazy days of summer, I’m also anxious to get back to routine by the time school rolls around.

My kids just do better with routine.  After too many lazy summer days it starts to feel chaotic around here.

Not to mention, here in Canada school starts in September, and that’s the beginning of the Fall season. Fall is a favorite season around our house (can you say all things pumpkin?), so, back-to-school time is an exciting time for us.


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Make a budget. Decide how much money you can or want to allot for school supplies. This will help you decide what you can afford, what you need to buy secondhand, and what has to wait or what you need to pass on this year.

Buy supplies at the dollar store. The dollar stores have a ton of great back-to-school items like pencils, pencil crayons, paper, pens, and the list goes on and on. This is a great place to stock up on all those supplies you need. I always like to shop the dollar store first, and then head to Walmart or another store to get the remainder of school items that I am looking for.

Shop secondhand for clothes. When back-to-school season hits many parents buy clothes for their children because kids grow out of clothing or their current wardrobe has a lot of wear and tear on it and is looking rough.

Shopping secondhand is a great way to save money on clothes. Thrift stores often have amazing prices on clothing for kids and sometimes they’ll even have sales on their already cheap clothes when it’s back-to-school season. You can usually find some good quality name-brand clothing in these type of stores.

Use last year’s lunchbox or backpack. Kids don’t need brand new every year. If their lunch box or backpack from the previous year is in good shape, use it again.

Buy quality items that last.  If you can afford good quality items for some of the supplies you need, you can use them year after year because they will last.  For example, if you buy a Jansport backpack, they come with a lifetime warranty which means you can get a LOT of use out of them.

Shop your house first. Look around your house and see what you have in the way of things like pencils, erasers, pens, binders, etc. As long as they aren’t extremely ruined they can be used for school.

Shop the flyers. When back-to-school season hits the flyers will have some great deals on certain items. You can usually find things like paper, pencils, crayons, and glue for extremely cheap prices.

Write a list and stick to it. It’s easy to get carried away in the store with all the flashy new school supplies. The truth is, kids don’t need a lot of it. Write a list of everything your kids need and make a decision to stick to it, no matter what. If it’s not on the list it probably isn’t a necessity.

Shop alone if you can. This one may not work if you have older kids, but if you have younger kids, you definitely can get away with school shopping without them. My kids are 12 and under and so far I’ve yet to bring them with me. This prevents them from wanting everything they see, and it prevents me from giving in to them and sticking to what we need. But again, with older kids they may prefer to pick out their own school supplies and so shopping alone may not be as feasible.

Check to see if your community has programs to help. If you are really struggling to afford school supplies, some communities will have programs that assist parents in providing school supplies for kids. You may need to be in a certain income bracket, but it’s worth looking into if you have absolutely no money for your children’s school supplies.

Bake and freeze snacks. Okay, back-to-school isn’t just about the supplies kids will need in class, but it’s also about all the school lunch supplies you will soon need. While saving money on school lunches deserves a post all on it’s own, I wanted to add about saving money on snacks.

Kids need a lot of snacks in their lunch boxes. 🙂 And they need snacks when they come home from school. It’s time to stockpile and save money in this area by baking large amounts of snack-type foods, like muffins, banana breads, and granola bars and freezing them so you can grab them at a moment’s notice.

Convenience foods for the lunch boxes adds up really fast, and by making these items yourself you’ll save money.


A great way to save money is by buying labels.  Wait, what?  You must be wondering how spending money on labels can SAVE you money?  Well, let’s be honest, kids are notorious for losing things.

How often during the school year have you had to replace an item they’ve lost?  To prevent things from getting lost and never returning, be sure to label your child’s belongings that they are bringing to school.    These back-to-school labels are perfect for that kind of thing.


While the expenses for school keep rising, there are ways to save money on all the school supplies. As long as you have a plan you can find deals and pay less than full price for many items.

Use the ideas on the above list and you will most likely discover that it will help you stay within your budget and keep back-to-school costs down.

Ways to save Money on Back to School Supplies
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Ways to save Money on Back to School Supplies
Save money on back to school expenses with these ideas.
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Simple Life of a Frugal Wife

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