Saving on Back-to-School Supplies — 5 Black Belt Tactics

Back to School Supplies - 5 Ways to Save Big Money.

Our priority at MoneySmartFamily is to help readers improve their finances and we partner with companies that could help you. Some links on this page are from our partners. Read how we earn money here.

The late summer months are the best time to stock up and save money on Back to School Supplies.

Unfortunately, if you’re not careful, this can be one of the most expensive times of the year for families with young children. Why?

The reason is that back-to-school costs can really take a toll on your family’s household budget.

According to the National Retail Federation, retailers expect that consumers will shell out more than $80.7 billion during this back-to-school shopping frenzy (k-12 and college combined).

50.1 million students will attend public elementary and secondary school. So if you do the math it comes out to almost $700 for each student K-12.

This seems really high to us.

Regardless of what the “experts” predict, you’re going to spend some money on school supplies.

In this article, we’re going to give you some Black Belt tactics to help you quickly and stealthily get the things you need. And we certainly hope you will spend less money and time doing it!

5 Ways to Save on Back To School Supplies

If you follow these 5 tips you’ll save a ton on your back-to-school supplies this year.

1. Take inventory before you shop.

MoneySmart Polls Icon

Whether you have one or ten kids, start by asking everyone to bring their old school supplies into one room – think of an ATF raid. Lay all the school supplies out on the dining room table, kitchen table or set up a folding table. Now everything can be sorted into categories, evaluated and then redistributed. Finally, make a list of what you need.

If our public and private schools did this one exercise, the savings would total into the millions, perhaps even billions of dollars.

2. Stock up on Loss-Leaders

Back to school office supply flyers - loss leaders.

Stores like Staples and OfficeMax/OfficeDepot have some of the lowest prices out there.

Check out their flyers in the newspaper, subscribe to their email list or go to their websites.

The savings are HUGE. You can shop in-store (most are open until 9 pm) so you can drop in on your way back home from work or an errand run.

Or you can shop online anytime at places like OfficeMax or Staples.

The office supply stores advertise lots of deals. But we particularly love the penny deals and five-cent deals, with a minimum purchase of $5.

This happens the month before or during the first two weeks of back-to-school sales. These two stores are our first pick for cutting the costs of back-to-school supplies.

The next level for good pricing is shopping at Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Target, and Kmart. Check out their sales flyers for their best deals.

The last place that we look for back-to-school supplies is at grocery stores. They don’t have as large an assortment as the office stores and their pricing is average. However, after back-to-school shopping is done, there can be some huge savings on clearance items at the grocery stores.

Back-to-school supplies can be found at multitudes of stores this time of year. The next step will help you evaluate further.

3. Evaluate Your Time versus Your Money

Timer stop watch icon

Many schools are offering pre-packaged back-to-school supplies to parents as an easy, time-saving option . . . and as a fundraiser for the school.

If you have excess money in your household budget, but don’t have a lot of time, this can be an easy way to solve the back-to-school shopping issue and help out your school at the same time.

If you have time, but money is tight, then, by all means, stock up on the loss-leader sales and even fill a box for your family’s future school years.  Of course, you could also buy extra supplies to either donate to the classroom for students without the ability to buy or to just bless the teacher.

And if you don’t have the time or a lot of money, you’ll have to figure out a way to find a few extra minutes to stop by and pick up the loss leaders in the flyers.

4. Using Price Match to Your Advantage

A Dollar Sign Spray painted on a wall.

Staples and Target will match advertised prices on brand-name products, just be sure to carry your ad flyers with you. At a time like this, it’s a good practice to keep the ads in a folder or bag in your car so they’re not forgotten . . . this is a war for your wallet.

Related Article: Stores That Will Price Match Amazon Today!

5. It’s More than School Supplies

Back-to-school deals aren’t just for school. Remember that the sales at this time of year are so great, you should stock up on items for your home office, crafting corner or your workplace. Think ahead for Christmas too. There are some items that are discounted this time of year that could make great stocking stuffers or Christmas presents.

Put the experts to shame and lower the average costs they predict by using these 5 Black Belt tactics this school year. But please be careful and don’t become a statistic with other experts who write about increasing credit card debt. Finding great deals, but paying credit card interest for several months will wipe out your savings.

With these 5 Black Belt shopping tools, you’ll be able to nimbly navigate the sales and score a huge win for your kids and your budget! Please plan and buy responsibility this year on back-to-school shopping.

Get Money Back When You Spend

Black Belt Savings Deal. If you have signed up with Swagbucks (read our savings tips here) you can earn between 2 and 4 percent back when you shop online through their portal at:

  • Walmart: you’ll receive 7 percent back in SB (Swagbucks).
  • OfficeMax / Office Depot: 4 percent back
  • Staples: 2 percent back
  • Michaels: 2 percent back

Join Swagbucks here and get up to a sign-up bonus

If you’re not into Swagbucks, you can still save by using these links at Staples and OfficeMax

StaplesSuper Closeout Deals OfficeMax: Amazing Clearance Deals

Back to School Supplies - 5 Ways to Save Big Money.

Back to School Savings with KPNX TV Reporter Brahm Resnik

Annette spent a fast-paced 5-minute sprint with Brahm Resnik as she discussed a number of ways busy moms can save a few bucks on school supplies and clothes for kids this year.

Things like:

  1. Checking what you have in the house
  2. Check your child’s class list for supplies
  3. Look at the store ads
  4. Drive-by Office Supply Stores to pick up loss-leader items on your way to or from work or appointments – don’t make a special trip.
Brahm Resnik and Annette Economides discuss back to school savings.

Brahm reminisced (he discovered us and was the first person to put us on the air) about the past 3 years. Over that time period, we have gone from the Cheapest Family in the Valley to the Cheapest Family in America.

He plugged the recent six-page article in Budget Living Magazine too.

For more ideas on Back to School with Clothing, read this blog!

2 thoughts on “Saving on Back-to-School Supplies — 5 Black Belt Tactics

    1. Steve Economides

      Walmart Corporate policy is to leave price matching to the discretion of the store manager. Perhaps you could ask your manager really nicely and see if you could get him to at least price match groceries or perhaps back to school clothing.

Leave a Reply