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Back to School Shopping Hacks

Back to School Shopping Hacks

back to school shopping hacks

15 back-to-school savings tips

You may be deep into your summer routine of lazy afternoons at the beach, family day trips and bedtimes postponed in favor of firefly-chasing, but for retailers, back-to-school season is already in full swing.

And, any way you slice it, the cost of back-to-school supplies and apparel is expensive! Between new backpacks, textbooks, a long list of supplies and a fresh autumn wardrobe, the average household is expected to spend $510 this year.

So how can you save big! Read on for our handy list of back-to-school shopping hacks that will help you keep more money in your wallet.

Try these ideas for back-to-school savings

1. Plan to shop five times

To take full advantage of the sales and clearance events throughout the summer, don’t buy everything at once. Plan on making five shopping trips this season to get the best prices available.

2. Stock up

No, your child doesn’t need a six-month supply of No.2 pencils for the first day of school or five spare pocket-folders. But, if you buy enough school supplies while prices are low to last through the first half of the year—or even all the way into June—you’ll save big.

3. Take advantage of loss leaders

Every week during back-to-school season, retailers will advertise one product at a super-low price. This is their loss leader, an item priced so low that retailers actually lose money on sales. The point is to drive customers to the store. For you, it’s about snagging those ridiculous prices. Don’t miss those hot deals!

4. Shop the dollar store

Before you hit traditional retail stores, shop for bargains at discount stores like Dollar Tree® and Family Dollar®. You can find calculators, paper, pencils, pens and more — for just a buck!

5. Buy designer backpacks online

If your child is begging for a brand-name backpack, but you don’t want to shell out big bucks for a label, check out sites like 6PM® and eBags®. You’ll find fantastic deals on designer backpacks that will keep both the fashion-conscious child and Mom happy.

6. Look for manufacturer coupons

Comb circulars, like RedPlum® and SmartSource®, for manufacturer coupons from school supply companies. You can also find them in parenting magazines or online coupon sites, like Retailmenot® and®. There, you’ll generally find steeper discounts than retailer coupons, and they can be combined with in-store specials.

7. Decode price tags

When shopping for new clothing, learn how to read price tags to get the best deal. Most stores have a system for tagging items at their final markdown. Here’s how these popular stores mark their lowest prices:

  • The Gap®: Ending in $.97
  • Target®: Ending in an 8
  • Old Navy®: Ending in $.47
  • TJMaxx®: Yellow price tag

8. Shop through Ebates® for cash back

Do all your online shopping through cash-back sites, like Ebates, and get 2 to 4 percent of every purchase back. Ebates is affiliated with almost every major retailer, and it takes little extra effort to shop through their site. It’s like getting paid to shop!

9. Coordinate with other parents

To help you get the best deals and save time, work together with other parents you know to buy supplies at great prices. For example, if yougreat deals on pencils, offer to buy a few boxes for your friend’s kids. And, when your friend finds the super-hot deal on crayons, they’ll pick up a few boxes for your kids. That’s money saved with fewer trips to the store.

10. Use the season to teach your kids financial responsibility

Now is the best time to share back-to-school shopping hacks with your kids. It’s the perfect season to teach financial lessons. Is your child desperate for designer items? Offer to pay the regular price and let her pay the rest with her own money. Let older kids shop on their own with a pre-approved list and a supply of cash from you. Offer children a choice between a pricier backpack or a new pair of shoes. The teachable moments during back-to-school savings tips are everywhere!

11. Check out gift-card sites before you shop

Save by buying discounted gift cards on sites like GiftCardGranny and Raise.

12. Use the Amazon® app to price match

Have your phone handy when shopping so you can comparison shop when buying your supplies. If an item is cheaper on Amazon, why buy it at the store (especially if you are an Amazon Prime® member and can get free shipping)?

13. Sign up for promotional mail

Most major retailers offer a discount for signing up for their promotional emails or text messages.

  • H&M®: Save 20 percent on one item when you text your email address to 707-03
  • Kohl’s®: Get 15 percent off your entire order by texting SAVE15 to 564-57
  • Old Navy: Sign up for a weekly text alert by texting 6046 to 653-689 and get a $5 coupon. You can also sign up for promotional emails at to be rewarded with a 30 percent off coupon
  • Crazy8: Sign up for emails and receive 18 percent off your next order, plus free shipping
  • The Children’s Place®: Input your email address in the pop-up box on and get a $10 coupon.

14. Take advantage of price-matching

Many stores offer to match competitors’ prices. Take advantage of this generous offer by coming prepared with an online price posting of a cheaper item you’ve found elsewhere. You’ll visit fewer stores this way and save money, too.

15. Shop early in the week

Weekly sales go live on Sundays. Shop Sundays and Mondays to be get the deals before they are gone!

Save big this season with these back-to-school shopping hacks!

When sales and shopping hacks aren’t enough, Personal or Fast Cash loans can be used as a back-to-school loan. Taking out one of these loans can help you spread your spending over the long term. Learn more about Personal or Fast Cash loans.