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  • Writer's pictureNick T.

Back to School Shopping: Tips and Tricks

Updated: Aug 11, 2023


According to a recent survey, American households can expect to spend approximately $900 on back to school shopping this fall. Since school supplies can make a major impact on your summer finances, we compiled this guide to help you keep your costs low.

Take Inventory

Prior to shopping, assess the items that you have at home. If you have supplies that are in decent condition, they can probably be reused for the upcoming school year. For example, a notebook with unused pages could be repurposed for a new subject or for loose-leaf paper. Backpacks, pencil bags, and lunchboxes can usually be used for multiple years before needing a replacement.

Make a List

It’s easy to get carried away when you go to the store without a plan. Before you embark on your shopping trip, create a list of all the essential items you or your children need. This will prevent you from overspending on unnecessary items.

Create a Budget

Once you determine the items you need, figure out how much money you can allot to supplies. Consider the cost of your basic expenses to ensure that you don’t break the bank with your back to school purchases. Need extra shopping money? This site pays up to $25 per survey.

Request a Price Adjustment

Many retailers offer price adjustments when items go on sale after you’ve already purchased them. If it’s been less than two weeks since you purchased an item, consider returning to the store and asking for a partial refund. Some stores also offer price matching if you find an item for a lower price elsewhere.

Consider Shopping Secondhand

Save money by purchasing items from a secondhand store or thrift store. You can also check online marketplaces or local sales groups. Some of the more expensive items on your list will be significantly cheaper if you buy them used. Good items to thrift include clothing, backpacks, and textbooks.

Buy Textbooks Online

Textbooks are usually a lot more expensive when you buy a physical version. If possible, rent an electronic copy. Sometimes, you can even find a free PDF version of your textbook which could save you hundreds of dollars.

Buy in Bulk

Buying in bulk can provide you with substantial savings on items that you will need throughout the year. Additionally, you can further cut your expenses by combining your purchases with your friends or neighbors. If your school requires students to bring classroom supplies like hand-sanitizer or tissues, shop at a wholesale club with a couple of friends and split up your bulk packages.

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