Need some ways to save on back to school shopping? We're sharing our SMARTEST tips and tricks for saving money on school supplies, clothes shopping and more!
Smart Ways to Save on Back to School Shopping
The first day of school will be here soon, which means things are about to get EXPENSIVE.
Not only are we shopping for new school clothes, backpacks, and shoes, but we're also buying school supplies galore! Tack on the fees for various class needs, sports, band, honor's classes, etc… and we're looking at a serious season of spending.
But there are actually LOTS of little ways to save on back to school shopping – here are our 13 best tips!
13 Tips on How To Save On Back to School Shopping
1. Check What You Already Have on Hand.
This one sounds like a no-brainer, but it's a good idea to take inventory of what you already own before setting out to buy new things. The kids might say they need a new backpack, or zipper binder, when in fact they've just misplaced theirs in the back of the closet or under the bed.
And do you remember that tub of clearance school supplies you got last Fall? Probably not! Make sure you haven't stashed any items away for later and forgotten them.
2. ONLY Buy the Basics Before the First Week of School.
I've purchased unnecessary school supplies waaaaay too many times to count, because I was following the generic supply list put out by the school district.
While this grade-specific supply list is generally what kids will need for school, it's really a collection of items most teachers tend to put on their lists. For the REAL list of what your child's teachers want them to bring to school, wait until the first week of school when your kiddos will bring home a list that includes more specific items.
If you're like me though, and like to get a head start, you can pick up the basic supplies that are always needed: Notebooks, Folders (different colors for each class), #2 pencils, pens, and filler notebook paper.
3. Get These $3 Backpacks.
Every year, Walgreens puts out a selection of backpacks for $3… and Walmart beats them with an even BETTER selection for only $2.77. Hopefully we'll see this sale again soon! Keep in mind these backpacks are on the smaller side appropriate for elementary children.
If you're looking for a great deal on a larger, sturdier backpack, here are the BEST deals on Backpacks for School happening right now!
4. Prep early for lunches at school by creating a back to school lunchbox station.
Not only will this help you save money in lunches, but it makes prepping EASY. This grab-n-go set up is fun for kids too! Get a head start on this so you can get everything ordered. The kids can even help pick out the items for the station too 🙂
5. Sign Up for FREE Our Back to School Cheat Sheet.
Have you snagged our FREE Back to School Cheat Sheet? Every week during back to school season, this shet will get updated with the LATEST prices around town for all the school supplies you're searching for! You can get yours HERE!
This is really one of my FAVORITE things we do every year here on PPP – it takes SO MUCH frustration out of looking for the best deal, and puts all the cheap school supplies deals together in one easy place!
You can also compare all the sales with our back to school deals comparison tool!
6. Shop Tax Free Weekends for Big Items.
Waiting for tax free weekends is a great idea when you're shopping for some bigger ticket items like a new laptop, a pricey backpack, basketball shoes, etc. Check out our list of Tax Free Weekends State by State to find out when yours is happening so you can plan ahead!
7. Shop the Old Navy Uniform Sale.
Old Navy's $3 and $4 Polos are legendary – and they usually go on sale RIGHT before school starts. The Children's Place is also know for great uniform sales, and Walmart is a good standby for inexpensive polos and pants as well.
Here are other great places to shop for school uniforms:
8. Compare Prices Online.
Sometimes shopping online can save you more than leaving your house…why? Stores often put out online codes that are BETTER than the deals happening at brick and mortar locations.
For instance – right before school last year, Target released a code for $40 Off a $100 Purchase of Dorm Room items (think rugs, lamps, bedding, etc.). The same code was NOT available if you were shopping in the store (I know… I tried it).
On top of this HUGE discount, Target REDcard members could save an additional 5% off and get FREE Shipping! See why we think the Target REDcard is a killer way to save – especially if you get the Debit Cart instead of the credit card.
9. Save Money Back to School Shopping at Thrift Stores.
Thrift stores might not be the first things that comes to mind when you're thinking of ways to save on school shopping, but don't underestimate the treasures you can find there!
I've found soooo many great name brand items there that my kids love – brands that normally I wouldn't have splurged on at a retail store. A Ralph Lauren Polo for $2.50? Yes please! A LuLu Lemon Jacket for $4? Absolutely!
Beyond name brands – thrift stores can be great places to snag uniforms and backpacks, shoes and belts. Get more tips in my 12 Secrets to Saving at Goodwill.
10. Attend a Clothing Swap.
Many neighborhoods, Facebook groups, churches, mom groups, and schools will hold clothing swaps at either the end of a school year or the beginning of one. It's a great way to clear out the clothes your child has outgrown and pick up some nice things from someone else.
You can check with your school or local church to see if there's a clothing swap coming up. OR if you have a lot of friends, you may want to try to arrange a clothing swap of your own! 😉
11. Shop at Outlet Malls.
Many outlet malls carry name brands at big discounts – all year round. But you can save even more with special coupon offers right around back to school time! In the past, Tanger Outlets has offered an extra 25% OFF through the end of August (hopefully they'll offer it again this year!). Simon Premier Outlets has a VIP club that offers special promotions as well.
See all our tips for saving at outlet malls here!
12. Get School Clearance Steals in the Fall.
Although this savings tip won't come in time for the first day of school, it's still one of my favorite ways to save on back to school shopping!
It's common for stores to mark down their backpacks and other school supplies just a few weeks after school starts. If you (or your kids) can hold on that long you can score up to 70% off name brand backpacks and more! Other stores wait longer for the serious school supply markdowns – and in those cases just buy ahead for next year.
13. Use our Back to School Comparison Tool so you get the BEST price
Each week, we update our back to school lowest price comparison tool with all the deals around town. That way if you're right next to a Target and a Walmart and Target has the better price, you can save on that item. This time of year we see CRAZY good sales from week to week, so it is certainly worth taking a look.