How to Save Big on Back-to-School Shopping

Wednesday, August 4, 2021
School supplies in a pile

With the calendar flipping from July to August, school is just around the corner. That also means it’s time for back-to-school shopping.

Back-to-school time has become its own shopping season, behind just Christmas in terms of family expenditures, according to the National Retail Federation. This year, families with children in elementary through high school plan to spend about $848, $59 more than last year, on average on back-to-school items. Total back-to-school spending is expect to reach $37.1 billion, up from $33.9 billion in 2020.

And that’s just for elementary through high school. For college students, the NRF says you’ll spend about $1,200 on supplies.

Multiply this amount by two or three (or five) children, and it’s easy to see why parents start sweating when back-to-school fliers and ads start appearing.

But don’t panic just yet. If you start early and plan ahead, you can put your kids back in the classroom for a fraction of this amount. Take some stress out of back-to-school shopping with these saving tips.

1. Do a Supply Sweep

Chances are your kids didn't use every one of their school supplies from last year. Round up all of the office and school supplies you already own and make a list of what you have and what you need. Last year’s erasers, pencils, folders, and backpacks can be used this year.

As for uniforms and school clothing, have your kids try on their clothes from last year. Bring outgrown items to your local consignment store, and use the money toward this year's school purchases. While you’re there, look for items they could add to this year's wardrobe.

2. Go High Tech

We shop online for presents, clothes, and electronics. Why not notebooks and pens?

Many retailers sell school supplies through their websites and mobile apps, with many offering free shipping. You can go from website to website to find which stores offer the best deals. Also, follow your favorite stores on Facebook and Twitter for posts about new sales.

Finally, check out coupon websites like, and for coupon codes or sales notices to help you save big.

3. Shop after school starts

Target, Walmart, and other big-name stores are advertising their school supplies, but that doesn’t mean you need to buy everything right now.

Use your leftover supplies or buy only what you need to get through the first week or two of school. By Labor Day, your kids will know what supplies they really need for each class. Plus, many stores will try to unload any unsold school supplies, which could mean big savings for you.

4. Save Your Receipts

Your savings don’t have to end once the school supplies have been bought.

Check back on the purchases you made at the end of the back-to-school season to see if they have been discounted further. If you find something you purchased for a cheaper price at another store, many retailers offer price adjustments or partial refunds up to a certain number of days.

Yes, it will require some homework on your part. But you’ll also be setting a good example for your kids.

Reward Yourself at La Cap

While you’re looking for cash rewards on your back-to-school shopping, you are also rewarded just for being a La Cap member. See why being a La Cap member pays.