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You probably know all of the conventional places to look for discount school supplies like Target, Walmart, etc. But what about going the non-traditional route? And don’t forget about buying them online or in bulk.
Here are a few places you might be overlooking as you’re checking off that back-to-school supplies list. Be sure to shop early so you don’t miss out on deep savings.
(Pssst! But don’t do a thing before you bookmark KCL’s Back-to-School Deals page! We’re ready to hook you up with savings galore.)
Craft stores like Michaels and JOANN are your best bet for cheap school supplies in the art category. You can find a plethora of coupons and discounts every week. I’ve seen weekly coupons for 25% off an entire purchase and for 40% off one regular-priced item.
Best of all, the store can scan your coupon directly from your phone, so paper coupons aren’t even necessary!
TIP: Looking to buy online? JOANN offers discounts to teachers, military personnel, healthcare workers, Girl Scouts, and 4-H members. Teachers can get 15% off their purchases at Michaels. The great news is that discounts can be used along with store coupons.
2. Use Walgreens and CVS rewards to buy notebooks and pencils.
You most likely have that one drugstore you use for your personal care items, but make sure to check out their school and office supplies section too! And I recommend visiting all the drugstores as their sales and store coupons differ.
Drugstores usually have all of the basic school supplies like notebooks, pencils, pens, and folders. Use your Walgreens Balance Rewards or CVS ExtraCare Rewards points to get discount school supplies.
The best way to earn a discount is by doing moneymaker deals at KCL. Moneymakers are deeply-discounted items you’ll use coupons to buy. And since you’ll also earn rewards points that act like store cash, it’s like you’re making money.
At some stores, like Walgreens, they’ll actually give you money back! Then use the “store cash” — Register Rewards (Walgreens) or ExtraBucks (CVS) — to buy your back-to-school supplies!
Keep your KCL app notifications on so you don’t miss a deal.
3. Grab discount school supplies like pens, notebooks, and glue from Five Below.
Five Below puts some school supplies sales to shame. They’ve got all the standards like glue, notebooks, pens, and erasers for $1 – $5. Most stores even have locker decorating essentials and travel-size lotion bottles and sanitizer wipes — perfect for school.
You won’t find coupons for Five Below (don’t worry, they’re so affordable without them), but it’s a great option to buy in bulk if you have multiple kiddos.
But their absolute best deal? Five dollar backpacks. Definitely check them out before you go back-to-school shopping.
4. Go secondhand and get discount school supplies from your local thrift store.
Thrift stores usually have an aisle for office supplies — binders, markers, calculators, you name it. Your local Goodwill is a great place to check out discount school supplies.
In addition to the basics like notebooks and planners, keep an eye out for backpacks, art supplies, dictionaries, thesauruses, and children’s books. You could save even more on colored tag days where the inventory is marked down even further depending on the sticker color!
5. Keep an eye on Craigslist and Freecycle for free school supplies and bundle deals.
Craigslist can be a bit of a mess to navigate, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find some cheap school supplies. Closing stores, retiring teachers, and garage sales that didn’t sell everything were all trying to get rid of their excess stock last time I checked.
I even saw someone selling a collection of pens, paperclips, a staple remover, a pencil sharpener, and a 3-hole punch for just $5. But don’t forget to check the “free stuff” section (ironically, listed in the For Sale tab) first.
Freecycle shows you all free items people are giving away for no cost in your area. You might have to do a bit of digging, but it’s totally worth it for free school supplies (and plenty of other goodies too).
6. Dollar Tree is the best place to buy school supplies like calculators.
Ah, Dollar Tree, how we love you — especially when it comes to discount school supplies. You can find brand-name school supplies at Dollar Tree like Crayola, Elmer’s, Bic, and Sharpie at a discounted rate, yet still score great deals on off-brand items that are just as useful.
This is where you should be buying your scientific calculators, clipboards, planners, and the items that you think your kids will lose — the dollar store will save you big in the long run. Plus, you can use manufacturer coupons, which creates freebies if you’re lucky!
7. Buy cheap school supplies in bulk from websites like Oriental Trading.
If you have multiple children or want to buy cheap school supplies to have for the future, consider buying your back-to-school supplies in bulk online. Buying in bulk is an excellent way to save on notebooks, folders, glue, binders — all of the items you know you’ll use this year or down the road.
Use websites like Oriental Trading and Discount School Supply for your bulk buying. I’ve seen 48 boxes of 6-color crayons for $10 at Oriental Trading. Discount School Supply has tons of school supply options, including clearance and price drop sections.
TIP: Partner up with another parent or two, buy in bulk, and split the items (and cost)!
8. Use eBay to get bundles of school and office supplies for less.
eBay might be best known for bidding on items, but they also offer quite a few “Buy It Now” deals. If you’re looking to get all your back-to-school shopping done in one click, this is a great option.
I’ve also seen plenty of “essential school supply” bundles on eBay for just $25. You might find bundles of Sharpies, #2 pencils, and pencil cases. If you want to save even more, add the item(s) you like to your Watchlist and get notifications when there’s a price change.
Best of all, those bundles come with free shipping. If you’re worried about getting your supplies in time for school to start, shop early to account for any potential shipping delays.
9. Save on your kid’s new backpack when you shop with eBags.
When you’re on the hunt for school supplies sales, you’ll want the best deal possible on a new backpack. eBags offers backpacks for all ages, with great savings at every level. You can also get 6% back on your order if you’re an Ibotta user.
The site commonly holds sales up to 75% off everything and even provides promo codes under their items for additional savings. You’ll definitely want to take advantage of this if you’re buying multiple bags, as orders under $99 have an additional $5 shipping charge.
Don’t see what you like on eBags? Check our backpack deals!