Back to school savings

Fireworks, hot dogs, watermelon, visits to the beach…yep, it sure is summer. And one other hallmark of summer? Back to school shopping.

You read that right – it’s time to start stocking up for school. Whether you’re headed to the dorms or a new homeroom class, getting good deals on the essentials is important to the family budget and to your scholastic success.

Consider the following your toolbox to maximize your b2s (back-to-school, of course) savings.

Summer “Window Shopping”

Start now and establish baseline prices for common back-to-school products, like notebooks/loose-leaf paper, pencils, markers and crayons, glue, backpacks, lunch boxes, etc. Some retailers will jack up prices for certain items for b2s time. Make sure you aren’t getting gouged when you find an item you like.

Student Discounts

Buying a new laptop or tablet? Check and see if you can get a student discount. Tech retailers will often look for a “.edu” when you order via their website and apply the coupon directly but others may offer different coupons with different conditions. Check the retailer’s website for education credit information.

Buying Used

If you’re heading to college, see if your local thrift stores or your regional Facebook Marketplace have supplies (or even furniture) that a recent college grad might have given away; that way, you don’t have to buy new items that are practically identical. If you’re going back to primary education or high school (or if your kids are), be on the lookout for gently-used backpacks, lunch boxes, pencil cases, binders…the list goes on. There are plenty of people who, even now, are cleaning out their attic storage and offering up useful items you can grab for far less.

Buying in Bulk

If you have a lot of kids headed back to school at one time, consider making some bulk purchases. Many sites offer wholesale discounts for items like paper, writing supplies, and craft items. You could even pool your resources with friends, family, and neighbors to get a large bulk order and get the best deal you can.

Dollar Stores

Don’t miss the deals at your local dollar store. Some stores offer coupons on 2-for-1 items that are just as good as those you’d get from big box stores. Others carry everyday low prices on craft supplies and items for science projects and presentations. Make sure you do your comparison shopping – sometimes your larger stores will offer a better value on certain items. Grab a circular from each of them and make a comparison chart.

Tax Holidays

Check and see if your state offers a “tax holiday” – a period (usually a long weekend) where sales taxes are not applied to school supplies, electronics, or even clothing. If so, set yourself a reminder for when the holiday will go into effect and plan your moves accordingly. You could save a lot by paying only the retail price for the goods you set out to get.

Apps and Web-Based Coupons

Have you checked out Honey? How about Rakuten? These simple browser extensions pop up when you’re about to buy something and sift through a wide array of coupon codes to get you the best price.

If you prefer to shop in-store, why not download ibotta, or even Shopkick, apps that allow you to get discounts and cash-back on your in-person purchases if you upload a receipt for that purchase using your phone? You can gain points and earn gift cards for the places you love to shop, saving you even more! Speaking of gift cards, check out sites like for a chance to buy gift cards to the stores you plan to patronize and get cash back on each one you buy.

Going back to school doesn’t mean your budget has to go bye-bye. Finding discounts, shopping smart and earning every penny you can? Now that’s smart. Now, go enjoy what’s left of summer!

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