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5 Fun & Unique Ways To Save Big On Back To School Shopping

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By Aimee

The summer is flying by and before you know it, the kids will be going back to school. It can be a stressful time for kids and parents, and expenses can really add up.

Shopping for school supplies, clothing, and books can be a daunting task and very expensive — but it doesn’t have to be!

back to school shopping kids

Depending on where you live and where your children attend school you can plan to spend a lot of time and money preparing for the school year.

Wondering how much you can expect to pay for back to school supplies this year?

According to Huntington Bank, parents can expect to pay (on average/per child):

  • $649 for elementary school children
  • $941 for middle school children
  • $1,402 for high school students

If you happen to have a child in elementary, middle, and high school, then your back to school costs would total $2,992!

Here are 5 simple tips to save money on back to school shopping this year:


#1 – Do Your Homework

Save money and time by creating a game plan. Make a back-to-school shopping list — and stick to it!

“Where do I start?” you ask.

back to school closet

  1. Take inventory of your child’s closet and evaluate what already fits.
  2. Collect clothes that don’t fit and donate them or sell online through sites like thredUP or
  3. From there, determine the new items you’ll need to buy for the school year.
  4. Next, do the very same for school supplies.

Are some of the school supplies in okay — but not great — shape? See if you can make it a few more months before replacing them.

Often times, there are great sales for backpacks and other school supplies in September after school has started!


#2 – Shop At More Than One Store

Now that you have your list ready, you’re ready to start shopping.

Many items on your supplies list — like folders, pens, pencils, and even tissues — are perfect for dollar store shopping. Though you won’t find name brands, you’ll find comparable products for only a dollar or so.

If you have a large family or you’re going in on school supplies with a group, then you should consider the big box stores as well for bulk purchases.

Sometimes, brand names really don’t matter. But sometimes they do. For items like folders, pens, and pencils the brand doesn’t matter as much. However, many schools provide a list for back-to-school items that include name brand items.

back to school crayola

If your child’s school provides a school supply list that is brand specific, then you’ll probably save in the long run by buying the name brand in the first place. If you save a few cents on off-brand markers that run dry in a few weeks, then you’re not really saving any money at all.


#3 – Look For Back To School Pop-Up Shops

I’m sure you’ve seen Christmas and Halloween stores that open before the holiday and close shortly after. Back to school pop-up stores are joining this trend.

back to school pop up

These pop-ups typically open in empty storefronts and sell smaller selections of popular items. They’re a good way for retailers to increase shopping options during busy periods, test various locations, and promote their brand.

Retailers can save up to 80% by opening a pop-up store instead of a traditional retail store — according to Storefront, a company that connects pop-ups with real estate.

Pop up back to school shops are a great money-saving option. Since retailers have less overhead costs, they can pass along the savings to you.


#4 – Find Or Host A School Supply Drive

There’s always a way to get what you need if funds are tight.

One great idea is to find — or start — a back to school supply drive.

back to school drive

There are many great reasons to host or participate in a school supply drive:

  • You’ll feel great about that your children will start the school year with the tools they need to succeed.
  • You’ll be helping teachers by providing them with necessary tools for their classrooms — so they won’t have to spend money from their own pockets.
  • You’ll be supporting students, teachers, and your community’s own schools.


#5 – Use Twitter & Facebook To Find Good Deals

Many companies send their followers coupon links and advance notice of sales. If you plan to bargain-hunt this year, then be sure to monitor your favorite stores’ Twitter and Facebook feeds to find deals.

back to school bus

You’ll find good deals by searching popular hashtags like #schoolsupplies, #backtoschool, and #backtoschoolsavings.

If you’re like me, then you might forget to incorporate social media outlets into your back to school shopping plans. However, you most likely use Twitter and Facebook already — so why not make it work for you to save money as well?


Get organized, shop around, look for pop-up shops, find a school supply drive, and use social media to save money on back to school shopping.

If it becomes apparent that the kids still need more supplies once school starts, then follow the steps above, prioritize those items, and shop accordingly.


Save Even More On Back To School Shopping