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Tips on how to save while back-to-school shopping

Posted at 4:37 AM, Jul 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-31 09:05:06-04

Let's talk about some general ways to save while navigating back-to-school sales.

Before we get to the easy steps, we must address the statistics from RetailMeNot's recent survey. The data shows that parents plan to spend an average of $532 during back-to-school shopping, up from $507 in 2019. Over half of consumers will most likely shop online this year and plan to use curbside pickup.

Sara Skirboll, Shopping and Trends Expert with RetailMeNot, shared that parents plan to spend $209 on clothes, $192 on electronics, $111 on shoes, and around $60 on backpacks. Click here to see more of the statistics.

Some sales are going on now, and others may begin the first weekend in August and continue through September. Be sure to use the tips and resources below, so you don't pay full price!


First up, take inventory. We tell you this tip every year. Try to reuse backpacks, lunch boxes and binders if possible.

When it comes to the school supplies list, see if your school or district is providing some materials.

Make sure you only purchase necessary items, not the recommended ones. You can even save more by just buying the basics and waiting until the first week of school to know you're actually only buying the items your students will need. Though, Skirboll recommends that if you see a great deal on a specific item your child or student wants, get it. If you wait, some items may fly off the shelves and be nearly impossible to find again.

You can also buy in bulk at wholesale shops, and team up with parents to split the costs. If you feel comfortable with it, you could always do a supply swap too.

Follow your favorite stores on social media or join their rewards programs. You might see exclusive deals, coupons and promo codes that way.

It's VITAL to compare prices. Every year, I take a school supplies list and shop it for identical items between three stores, scouring the best prices. Walmart tends to win for the lowest total. It's a solid option for one-stop shopping. Here's our back-to-school comparison for 2018, and another back-to-school supplies cost comparison for 2019 to help guide you.

But, we know that Amazon will be competitive this year. Many parents wait until Amazon Prime Day to kick off their back-to-school shopping. Since Prime Day didn't happen this July, and many people turned to online shopping during the global pandemic, Amazon may be a strong contender this time around for back-to-school supplies.

Again, do your research and compare prices. There are sites like Camel Camel Camel, Price Grabber and more that can help you find the best deal.

Parents, educators and students who go the Amazon route can create Wish Lists on the site. That way, a link can be shared with others for help gathering the items needed.

Here is a link from 2019 about local resources for families looking for school supplies. It's important to note that the events listed are from last year, but you can use the links to research if there are any events this year or ways to receive aid. put together a ginormous guide on how to save on all things back to school, and it's being regularly updated. Check it out to see how to save by category.


Teachers also understand how expensive education can be. Treasures 4 Teachers is a great resource right here in the Valley. RetailMeNot put together a list of over 40 discounts specifically for educators. This next site shows an article from 2019, sharing 117 dollar store hacks for classrooms. The National Education Association put together some resources for how to find needed items for free. There are also resource sites like Donors Choose, Adopt a Classroom, and others to research as well.


The Krazy Coupon Lady shares 24 incredibly helpful back-to-school shopping hacks. One that really stands out is the importance of knowing the codes for price tags on clothing items. Depending on how it's marked, you should be able to determine if the price will drop more or if it's the lowest it will go. Cue a limbo joke.


When it comes to clothing, you can also save by going to resale stores like Kid to Kid, Buffalo Exchange or other consignment stores as well. There are ways to save on uniforms too! Here is a link from 2019 comparing school uniform prices between four stores. You can do a similar process. Though more time-consuming, it's worth it in the end to save more cash.


If your student is an athlete, you can buy and/or sell sports equipment at Sideline Swap. You can do the same for musical instruments at Music Go Round.


Click here to see tips from DealNews to score affordable backpacks. DealNews also offers tips on what to expect during these back-to-school sales.


If you have a college student, check out this link about dorm registry to save. We can't forget about college student discounts too! Those can help students save year round on all kinds of products from clothing to technology, in all kinds of stores and even restaurants! Click here to see the massive roundup DealNews put together for "All The Best Student Discounts and Freebies in 2020", as it reads on the site. RetailMeNot also breaks down over 55 college discounts by category.

Do you have any other back-to-school shopping tips you'd like to share? Email me!

Good luck and Happy Savings!