Can't find what you're looking for? Shop all ink and toner cartridges by brand
“It's so easy to get caught up in back to school shopping,” admits dad and financial expert Jude Boudreaux, CFP®, of Upperline Financial Planning in New Orleans, LA. “Your children ask for items, or you end up buying items that you wish you had when you were a child.” But don’t worry — you can navigate all the back to school sales and craziness without breaking the bank.
Create your shopping list based on the supply lists provided by your children’s teachers. Check prices online to get a handle on actual costs and then set up your spending plan.
Keep in mind that older children tend to need more — and more expensive — supplies and clothes. Get those older kids involved! “They can learn how to allocate their money or find ways to earn extra funds if there are items that they would like to purchase with their own earnings,” Boudreaux says.
Buying online can save you time and money. Look for online-only and buy more, save more deals. Most sites offer free shipping during back to school sales or when your order is over a certain dollar amount.
Keep your eyes peeled for back to school sales where you can stock up on large quantities at low prices. This is especially smart for high-demand items like notebooks and notebook paper, pens and pencils. “If I over-purchase, I donate the surplus to the school or recycle as much as we can from year to year,” notes Laura Staal, a mother of five in Southern Pines, NC.
It’s easy to think the most expensive school supplies and uniforms are the best, but the truth is, high quality and reasonable cost aren’t mutually exclusive. “I look for both price and durability,” Staal says. After all, cheap items wear out faster and have to be replaced. Online reviews and insights from teachers and parents will help you ensure that only the most cost-effective items make it onto your back to school shopping list.
Backpacks are a must-have item, so choosing a backpack carefully is key. Research online reviews of the brands and styles your kids like the best, and examine the most promising ones in person when possible. Buy the most durable and reliable backpack within your budget, and ask about warranties. Remember: If you buy a poor-quality backpack because it’s cheap, you may end up having to buy another one later!
Setting a back to school shopping budget and looking for savings ensures “that other priorities like family vacations and date nights don't get sacrificed for the extras that kids just 'had to have,’” Boudreaux notes. “Plus tracking your spending will make a huge difference in your planning and awareness for future years.”
There are three ways to save on back to school shopping at Staples: