18 Tips and Tricks for Finding Discounts on School Supplies

The changing of seasons from summer to fall comes with exciting and fun activities and things to look forward to. Football season kicks off for all ages. Coffee shops reintroduce all the flavors of pumpkin spice and nutmeg. 

And for many students, school is back in session. 

But you know they can’t head off into the classroom without being properly equipped. Whether your school provides a detailed list of everything they’ll need throughout the year or students are old enough to know what they need, a shopping trip is often required to be ready. 

From pens and pencils to highlighters and sticky notes. Book protectors and rulers and calculators and notebooks. To learn well, students should have the right tools with them to succeed. 

In looking at a lengthy list of materials and supplies students need as they head back to the classroom, it may seem a little overwhelming. Sure, you can use some of the same supplies from last year, but there’s still a lot to purchase. 

Good thing there are some helpful and easy ways to save money on all those school supply purchases. With so many deals and opportunities to save, you shouldn’t have to pay full price for paper folders or a three-ring binder. No matter your age or what’s on the shopping list, deals are sure to be found. 

Find Discounts on School Supplies

To help you start the school year off right, here we share 18 tips and tricks to finding great discounts on your school supplies list. 

1. Shop in Season 

Stores start advertising sale prices on their wide range of school supply items beginning mid-summer. For some kids, that seems way too early to start thinking about going back to school. But for restocking on school supplies, keeping your eyes out for those sales and trending discounts can help you prevent any last-minute scrambling for those things you need. Take advantage of those reduced prices so you never have to pay full retail price. 

2. Check out Thrift Stores

Shopping second-hand stores and thrift shops is for more than just clothing items. See what kind of gently used school supplies you can find for cheap at these stores. Many of these stores, like Salvation Army or Goodwill, help to give back to the community, too. 

3. Forget Name Brand 

Depending on the type of school supplies you need, there’s often little difference in getting a name brand product versus a generic brand. While your student may prefer a certain brand of notebook paper, sometimes the opportunity to save a little extra cash is worth the comparable product. Many of these generic brand products are offered at discounted prices already and may come also with extra coupons for added savings. 

4. Shop the Dollar Store 

Your local dollar store may be a great spot to find school supplies at the right price. While not everything at a dollar store is worth the flat rate price, some supplies like pens and pencils or calculators may be cheapest at a dollar store. 

5. Buy in Bulk

If you’ve got a large family to equip to head back to the classroom, consider visiting your local warehouse store like Sam’s Club or Costco. You’ll often find top school supplies packaged in larger quantities for a lower price per item. 

6. Stay Online

With the start of school approaching, you’ve probably got enough errands to run and things to do. Make shopping for back to school easier by shopping online. You might be able to find additional coupons and discounts that are only available online. Be sure to hit any minimum amount to reduce or eliminate your shipping charge when you order. 

7. Use Printable or Digital Coupons

Find, clip and save coupons on popular school supplies items to use in-store as well. Like your grocery shopping, you can continue to save big by stacking on savings opportunities with free manufacturer or retailer coupons. 

8. Earn Cash Back 

Get rewarded for completing your back to school shopping list by earning cash back from your purchases. Use sites like Rakuten or Ibotta to get cash back in your pocket even after you’ve checked off all your items. 

9. Stock Up When You Can 

You don’t want to get halfway through a semester and realize that you or your kid has run out of ink pens to use for school. Keep a stash of supplies on hand that you purchase when you find great deals. Doing so will prevent you from making emergency trips to the store and paying full price for items that you could’ve purchased at a discount. 

10. Don’t Buy What You Don’t Need

While those back to school shopping lists are helpful, they’re often not a strict rule. You don’t necessarily need to purchase everything you think you should buy for school. You may not need as many notebooks or prefer to use pencils rather than pens for everything. Restrict overbuying and leaving supplies forever unused. 

11. Visit Garage Sales 

Search through garage sales and other rummage sales for gently used or never opened school supplies. You may be able to make good use out of someone else’s extras. 

12. Compare Prices From Different Stores

If you can, you might not want to do all your back to school shopping in just one location. Rather than doing a one stop shop, look around to see what stores have the best prices on the school supplies that you need. You may even be able to price match on some items depending on which retailers you visit. 

13. Track Top Retailers on Social Media Platforms 

If you have a favorite place to shop for your back to school items, be sure you’re following along with them on their social media platforms. They may announce additional discounts and sales going on to help you save even more on your trip. 

14. Prioritize Big Purchase Savings 

Allocate your time to focusing on saving money on those big-ticket items like a new laptop or other electronics purchase. The potential for savings on these items are much more significant than a few cents here and there on a package of crayons or pencils. 

15. Team Up With Your Kids

When you’re out shopping for your family’s school supplies, involve them in the process. Ask them what they like and see if they really want everything that’s on the shopping list. 

16. Move Digital 

If you or your student do a lot of their work on a tablet or laptop, consider whether you actually need all those paper notebooks and folders. You may be able to save money or allocate it more toward your technology-specific needs. 

17. Be Disciplined in Your Shopping 

Similar to grocery shopping, finding school supplies can be a fun and exciting trip with you and your family. However, avoid overspending by making your list and sticking to it. With proper planning and discipline, you don’t need to go over budget. You may even end up saving money overall. 

18. Browse Used Textbooks

If you or your student is required to provide their own textbooks for the classroom, reconsider the move to purchase all from the school’s bookstore. You may be able to find the same book used for a much better price online. 

Save on Going Back to School

Make the transition back into school easier by finding great discounts on the supplies you need most. With these helpful tips and tricks to finding savings opportunities, you can enjoy the move into a new season. School can be expensive enough. Get the resources and supplies you need for success, all without breaking the bank.