11 Smart Ways to Save on Back to School Shopping

By Chika


Last Updated: August 1, 2022



Many schools are returning to classroom learning this fall, so back-to-school shopping lists will be taking a bigger chunk out of families’ wallets in 2022.

With inflation flirting with a 40-year high, this means parents and guardians could pay more for everything from pencils to laptops.

A 2022 report on school spending published by Deloitte estimates an 8% increment in back-to-school spending from notebooks and pens to clothing to tech devices. This year, parents should expect to spend much more.

The biggest culprit in the slurry of price increases is digital appliances, as tech is now competing for space with notebooks in kids' backpacks. 

Keeping your back-to-school spending under control can be difficult when inflation is soaring. But with some careful planning and shopping around, there are ways to cut costs and shop within your budget.

We have compiled steps you can take to do your back-to-school shopping without breaking the bank.



11 Ways to Save Some Money on Back-to School Shopping

1. Plan ahead.

The best way to get good deals on your shopping is to make plans ahead. 

You can start 6 weeks before the back-to-school season starts, making inquiries and comparing prices.

If you plan to go to the store, start your research online and compare prices among different retailers. If you see items you would like to purchase but are not on discount, first add them to your carts and wait to see if they go on sale before making the purchase.


2. Take inventory of your supplies.

Start your shopping from home before heading out to the store to acquire school supplies.

Perhaps you bought some supplies in advance, or have an extra from last year. You can store items in boxes so that it is easier to track, and possibly refill items. For example, if your child opens a box of crayons, try to use other crayons that are not in a box to make a full set.


3. Buy only what's needed.

It's usual to feel pressured to get every single item on your child’s supply list before the first day of school.

But your child may not use all of them or need them immediately. You can ask the teachers which items are needed right away, then purchase the remaining supplies later. This gives you some elbow room for your spending and to take advantage of deals that may come during the off-season.


4. Consider shipping costs.

Shopping online may be a pleasant experience, but there is one area that eats deep in your pocket if ignored - shipping costs.

Considering high shipping costs due to a backlog of demands and supply chain issues, you can end up spending more online than you do walking into a store. This is especially a low ball if you’re shipping a relatively low-cost product.

Another trick to look out for is items with free shipping. Savvy retailers know they can increase the demand for the products they offer by reducing or eliminating the cost of shipping. However, sometimes the cost is factored into the cost of the item. 

Companies such as Amazon, Walmart, Target, and even Etsy benefit from economies of scale because they generate mass online sales. This puts them at an advantage to achieve bulk discount rates.

But this may mean waiting longer periods for your products to arrive. Another reason why you have to plan early. 


5. Reduce trips to the store.

Not only are you spending more to purchase back-to-school items, but you also have high gas prices to contend with.

More trips to the store mean you would have to use more gas and spend more money on purchases. So, fewer trips to the store is saving you a whole lot more than just fewer purchases. 


6. Split bulk deals with friends.

Some school supplies may be cheaper per item if you purchase them in quantity.

This may apply to writing instruments such as pens, pencils, markers, crayons, notebooks, or tissues. It may wind up costing you less money to split such huge purchases with friends than to buy smaller quantities for your child alone.


7. Look for student-specific discounts.

Students may receive discounts or other perks from a variety of merchants on everything from apparel to electronics to vitamins.

For example, students are given access to Amazon Prime Student, which offers Prime perks from the online retailer at a discounted rate compared to a conventional Prime membership, such as free two-day shipping.

Student discounts are also available at Apple, J.Crew, Nike, and select Goodwill outlets. Student shopping websites like Unidays, offer discounts on a variety of goods and services. 


8. Buy refurbished electronics.

You can save hundreds of dollars on a new computer for your kids by purchasing a refurbished model.

Just make sure you buy from a certified seller. Shoppers can find refurbished computers made by Acer or Dell. Sites like eBay and OfferUp sell refurbished electronics and even provide warranties.


9. Make purchases in the off-season.

Many deals on school supplies can be scored in July and August, but it might pay off to wait until after school has started to purchase some things.

If you can hold off on buying your student a new laptop, for instance, you might find better deals — and more availability — once school is in session. There are better deals on Back-to-school purchases from September and beyond because retailers want to move that inventory out to make room for more fast-moving items.

A tip: Retailers start shifting their displays to winter wear in October and November. This is a good time for you to buy fall clothing.

Also, with a few weeks of warm temperatures left in many parts of the country when school resumes, it is a perfect opportunity to purchase end-of-season summer clothing for your kids. 


10. Consider Other School Costs.

When creating your back-to-school budget, the school supply lists that instructors offer are a fantastic place to start.

However, there are many other costs that might pop up throughout the year, so it's critical to make smart financial decisions. 

Parents sometimes forget about costs for extracurricular activities, travel for out-of-town sports, field trips, fundraisers, book fairs, and teacher presents. You can plan and save more effectively if you keep track of all of your school expenses throughout the year rather than just the ones for clothes, books, and technology.


11. Claim child care tax deductions.

Hang onto receipts for purchases and expenses for child care (i.e. nursery schools or daycares), as they could be used to claim payments on your tax return and get money back. When tax season comes around, use Form 2441 to calculate your childcare allowances. 

You can write off the cost of tutoring or school if your child has a learning handicap, as an item of medical expenditure. Save all invoices and supporting paperwork pertaining to your child's schooling, since you will require a note from your physician.

Read this next! 6 Awesome Opportunities to Teach Your Kids About Money



You Can Save Money on Back to School Shopping

Despite rising inflation, it’s possible to shave a significant amount from your back-to-school budget through methods like comparison shopping, student discounts, cashback rewards, and the timing of your purchases.

It is also important to note that school costs go beyond textbooks, bags, clothes, etc. Other items such as field trips, club memberships, etc. equally add to your expenses. As such, it is important to have the big picture in sight when making plans for back-to-school expenses.

Just make sure that you are not prompted to buy on impulse. Diligent research on the best deals available could save you a lot of money in the long term. 

Photo by Pixabay



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