It seems the older the children, the more they cost! This is also true for their back-to-school supplies. Often their lists now include flash drives, combination locks, foreign language dictionaries, TI calculators, reams of paper, 5-subject notebooks, sturdy backpacks, textbooks and graphing paper. Of course, Krazy Couponers are savvy shoppers who are always looking for ways to save. Are you ready for KCL’s advice? Read on!

The Basics

Thankfully with great back-to-school offers at the national office supply stores, these can be much less than retail price.

  • Reams of Multipurpose Paper: Look for them to be $1.00 or less after rebate or rewards.
  • Graph Paper Notebooks: Under $2.00 is your target for graphing paper notebooks and $1.00 or under for graphing filler paper.
  • Notebooks: 1-Subject spiral notebooks are a stock-up price at under $0.15 each. 3-Subject notebooks should be $1.35 or less, and never pay more than $2.00 for a 5-Subject notebook. Poly notebooks will cost you more out of pocket than their paper cover counterparts listed, but may hold together longer.
  • Combination Locks: These should be $3.00 or less at several stores this year for brand names like Masterlock.  


  • Flash Drives: A good rule of thumb is to always pay less than $1.00 per GB with flash drives. The higher the GB, the more it will cost overall, but it will be cheaper per GB. However, you’ll also want to compare the read and write transfer speeds if your student will be dealing with pictures and movies as opposed to simple text documents.
  • TI Calculators: For higher math courses, Texas Instrument calculators are becoming a necessity, though their high price tag is enough to make any parent cringe. The best advice in most cases is to rent or buy them used. If your teenager only needs a graphing calculator for a semester, consider renting. Many high schools will offer rentals for a small fee, or you can check out websites like and that have several different models for a flat per-semester or monthly fee. Used TI calculators have usually seen only a few classes’ worth of use and tend to be in pretty good condition. Also check out used calculators on Amazon, eBay, Craigslist or college garage sales for more than 40 percent savings.


Budgeting cuts or reallocation of spending has driven some schools to require the students to buy the class reading books, foreign language dictionaries and textbooks. As in the case of graphing calculators, renting or buying used is the biggest way to save. Sites like and have rental options, while eBay, Craigslist and Amazon are all great sites to check for buying used. Remember to check if your local library branches offer them if your child will only need it for a few weeks.


The older the student, the more stuff they’re likely to have to tote around day after day, so you’ll want to make this a good investment. One of the biggest ways to ensure your child’s backpack is worth the money is to buy one with a great warranty. Check out the KCL post Best Backpack Warranties for Back-to-School for an extensive guide. Remember to always pay less than retail by looking for store coupons, rebates and percent-off deals to stack together!

So seasoned parents, what are your tips and tricks for saving big? What has worked best for you?