Ask the Readers: What Are Your Tips for Back-to-School Shopping?

By Ashley Jacobs on 2 August 2016 59 comments

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As school comes back in session in the fall, students and parents will need to make sure they're equipped for classes and extracurricular activities. Besides the basics like pencils and paper, students may also need new clothing, books, after-school snacks, or even electronics for the older set. All of this can really bust a budget if you're not careful.

What are your tips for back-to-school shopping? What items are on your shopping list? If you don't have kids and you are not a student, will you be shopping the back-to-school sales anyway for the savings?

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Guest's picture
Mami2jcn

My back to school shopping tip is to take advantage of your state's tax free weekend.

Guest's picture
Julie Wood

I use sales flyers from different stores and use coupons on items to save more money. I also price match at Walmart.

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Karen Patterson

I always check to see what we already have at home before shopping. Then I watch the adds for specials and try to shop on tax-free weekend.

Guest's picture
Matt

I don't have kids so I won't be back-to-school shopping. If I see a deal on something I need I'll bite, but otherwise I try to limit my spending.

Guest's picture
Elena

My tips are to use coupons and shop sales

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Danielle

One of my favorite back to school shopping tips is to WAIT! Many schools now will issue supplies lists that are very specific. We don't purchase any supplies until we have these lists.

Guest's picture
V

We don't have kids, and we're not in school anymore (thank goodness!), but I absolutely love shopping for school supplies. There's always great deals, and there's always something we need. Plus, there's always a few coupons floating around, so you can get stuff for cents on the dollar. We actually made 3 cents on some white out the other day at Walmart!

Guest's picture
Gina

Art supplies like crayons and markers are on my list. My tip is to not buy everything at once. Keep an eye on the sale flyers and buy items as they're on sale - one item one week and another item the next week. And use any coupons available.

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natasha

I shop around for the best deals and price match!

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Karen Littman

I don't have any school age children now, but I still scan the ads and find the best match to stock up on office staples that I use around my house and office. I also shop at warehouse clubs for things I use often.

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Brandy Massie

I save by using coupons and following freebie mom

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Monique Hubert

One thing to know about back to school sales is you don't have to be a student to enjoy them. If you're looking for a laptop, it might be a good idea to wait until the sales in July or August.

Guest's picture
Tonia Koons

Definitely search out the beat sales,coupons and it doesn't hurt to know weather the store price matches. Layaway is always a huge help if you have more than 1 to get school ready

Guest's picture
Susan Smith

I buy school supplies when they are on sale and with coupons

Guest's picture
Kelli

Back to school shopping isn't applicable to me, and I don't have children, but I would look for sales and maybe buy discounted gift cards to stores like Target, Walmart, Staples, etc. to help with the cost of clothes and supplies.

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Rebecca Ross

Go to the thrift store for clothes, get a book bag that has a lifetime warranty, and shop sales on supplies.

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Mary W

Shop early. Shop the sales. Office Depot/Office Max and Staples are having weekly sales with some items priced at one penny. Some weeks printer paper is free or just one penny with purchase. Our state has tax free shopping days for Back To School. That saves us 7% right away and then add sales and coupons - the savings do add up!

Guest's picture
Alona

Shop during back to school tax free weekend if you live in a state that has one

Guest's picture
Liz

I don't have any kids, but I hope to shop a few sales!

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Laurajj

All summer long, when I go to the grocery store, I try to pick up one item that will be needed! That way when school starts in September, I have alot of what we need already!

Guest's picture
AnnMarie

I check to see what is on the list, what we still have at home new or able to reuse, price match and coupons. Set a budget for clothes and don't go over!

Guest's picture
JD

Sign up for shops email lists on a gmal account. They do a good job of separating out the promotion emails from legitimate emails and you'll always have a recent coupon in your inbox. Also, don't forget to check if they accept AAA discounts if you are a AAA member.

Guest's picture
Christina

I don't have kids - but there are a couple of business office supply purchases I may make. My tip is to have a list of what you need and not get tempted just by good prices for things you don't need, and probably won't use.

Guest's picture
Suz_Glo

I no longer have school age children to shop for but I will buy supplies and donate. I love it when a drugstore or office supply store has the donation bin available. I can spend $5 and immediately share a lot of great supplies.

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Erika

Honestly, I try and buy my kids' school supplies after they have already been marked down significantly. For example, I like Targets presharpened pencils and was able to get them for a quarter a box, down from one dollar after school had already started. Then I just save them until next school year.

Guest's picture
Tracy

Now that the majority of the schools tell you specifically what to purchase, it is hard to add a little personality and fun while keeping within budget. One class needs a yellow folder ("NOT blue, YELLOW" was specified). So, we get what we HAVE to, but I do splurge a little so that each kid can have something with a little sparkle that shows their individual personality. Shopping on the tax-free weekend helps budget those splurges!

Guest's picture
Rose

Buy extra while it's on sale. Kids will always need extra notebooks and pencils by January.

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Jean

I'll be using coupons and compare prices online. I'll also try to consider buying school supplies like pens, pencils in bulk at Sam's club!

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Lisa

Definitely shop the ads. But also try and shop throughout the year for the coming year so it doesn't hit all at once.

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Bekki

tax free weekend!!!

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Elle

Don't wait until the last second and shop sales and look for good deals using weekly ads.

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Trish

I don't have any children going back to school but I am always on the lookout at this time of year for office supplies that may be on sale!

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Sarah

I always buy things when they are on sale and stock up during the year on things I can always use, like paper, pens and pencils.

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J. Pario

We didn't do back-to-school shopping, unless we needed to buy new uniforms.

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Jeff

use tax free shopping days.

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Betty D

Only buy a few outfits to start. You have to see what all the kids are wearing. One year my daughter picked out all cute outfits, and within a week, all the girls decided to wear sweatpants.

Guest's picture
Jay

If there are good sales on needed items, will buy.

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Guest

I am a teacher and many students bring teachers gifts on the first day of school. It's very sweet and generous but save your money!! I would love a card or a picture just as much as (if not more) than candy.

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Donna D

Cherry pick the sales, use coupons and rebates.

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Denise A Belyavsky

When I had kids in school, I watched the sales flyers for the best prices overall...of course, some places would have best price on one thing and another place would have the best price on something else...but rather than running all over the place, I tried to go where the generally best found prices were. I didn't realize that you could price match, which other commenters mentioned. That would have saved me some $.

Guest's picture
Louly

Shop during the tax free weekend and use up those coupons!

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Christie

My back to school shopping tip? Buy those notebooks, etc when they're 15 cents each and buy a ton! (They're over 10x more during the year!) Otherwise, wait for things to go on sale and buy in bulk; the shopping list doesn't change much from year to year in lower grades.

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Miss Kim

I search for sales and will stock up for the entire school year in the beginning of the school year when the sales are awesome.

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Michelle D.

I always buy extra when it's on sale.

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Guest

Swap clothes & gently used school supplies w/friends (esp. binders) You can also reuse prior ones. We always get free pens w/the 50/1 BIC coupons.We buy notebooks at Walmart for .17 and stock up for the year. Staples usually have alot of free paper deals. So, we don't buy computer paper often.

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Michael

I look for good sales not just for back to school but throughout the whole year.

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Lynda

i don't need to do back to school shopping but if i did, i would check what we have already at home before making a list of what i would actually need. and hit up on the sales.

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MaryG

My tip is to consider less than typical stores for back to school items. Some drug stores and grocery stores have some great deals on school items that beat office supply stores. By combining some of my local grocery store's digital coupons with printed coupons, I was able to get some basic supplies for free or nearly free.

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Bethany M

Our back-to-school shopping is probably different than most. Since we're homeschooling, we have to buy curriculum. I found going through a distributor rather than through the curriculum website saves us quite a bit.

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SKB

Don't get carried away running out and buying new everything. Look at what is left from last year. Clean up the book bag and the gym stuff. Something new for the first day to wear with your favorite comfy jeans is good.

Guest's picture
Happy Love

Sales, sales, sales.

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amanda sakovitz

I usually shop sales and use coupons

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Guest

Coupons! And buy in bulk whenever possible.

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Lisa Puckett, @MykidsMylife72

Shop at dollar stores, use coupons, shop during tax free week and look for the best deals before heading out. Our shopping list was full of supplies(paper, pens, pencils,notebooks,tissue,disinfecting wipes & more), clothes, lunch boxes and backpacks.

Guest's picture
Rich

Check out yard sales and Goodwill for all sorts of good deals. Back packs, pencil boxes, jeans and many other items can be found if you look for them

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C Hui

I check out the sales ads and combine sales with coupons.

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Kat

I stock up when there is a sale throughout the summer so I am ready when school starts.

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Ashley Park

I like to check out the clearance section of stores after school has already started for significant mark downs.

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Ana

I use tax free shopping days and shop sales.