Stephanie Nelson | 

Back-to-School Sales Hacks Every Smart Shopper Must Know in 2023

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And just like that, we’re back prepping for the new school year. And if you haven’t done your school supply shopping yet, we have a few back-to-school shopping hacks to get the best deals every time.

Back-to-school shopping deals happen between the second week of July and the last week of August. So whether your kids’ first day back already passed or won’t start until after Labor Day, you want to shop now to get the best deals on everything from shoes and clothes to bento boxes and college backpacks. Luckily, it’s not too late to score some savings.

Below, we’ve gathered our favorite back-to-school shopping hacks so you can save money on brands like BIC, Post-It, and Apple. After this article, head to the Krazy Coupon Lady’s Back-to-School sales page (once you visit the page, you’ll have the chance to “opt-in” for back-to-school emails).

Then, download the KCL app or text HACKS to 57299 to have KCL’s Back-to-School page and all the deals right at your fingertips.


Our favorite back-to-school shopping hacks:

1. Note stock-up prices before you start back-to-school shopping.

school supplies in a cart

Have the KCL Back-to-School Stock-up Price List handy on your smartphone while you’re shopping to help you out.

Here are some snippets from our 2023 Stock-Up Price List:

  • Divider Tabs, 5 ct: $0.65
  • Wood Ruler: $0.50
  • Kids’ Scissors: $0.80
  • Plastic Ruler: $1
  • 3-Subject Spiral Notebook: $3
  • Masterlock Combination Lock: $4
  • Basic (non-brand-name backpacks): $6


2. Hit back-to-school shopping sales on Sunday and Monday—supplies run out quickly.

School shopping written on a calendar.

Weekly back-to-school sales at most stores start Sunday mornings, and now that we’re in August, it’s less likely inventory will be restocked.

Being the first to the sale merchandise will serve you well to not only make sure you get discount school supplies — but also that you get the item…at all.

RELATED: 8 Best Places to Buy Cheap School Supplies: Deals Happening Now


3. Look for manufacturer coupons before you go back-to-school shopping — especially on brands like BIC, Kleenex, and Post-it.

A pack of post-its held along with coupons

Printable coupons for school supplies become available while summer is still in full swing, so warm up your printer! Watch for manufacturer and store coupons from office supply brands in August.

Redeem the manufacturer coupons on sale items for the biggest savings. Specifically, look for:

  • Magazine coupons are a fantastic source for back-to-school coupons.
  • Sunday newspaper coupons from sources like Retail Me Not, SmartSource, and Procter & Gamble will have a few coupons for school supplies each week.
  • In-store coupons are typically found on the shelves or inside products. Walgreens usually has lots of school supply coupons in the weekly ad at the front of the store.
  • Check sites online for coupons, like 10% off Bic products.

Also, be sure to check out KCL’s Post-It coupons, Kleenex coupons, and Bic coupons to save some more!



4. Grab pens and pencils for almost free with coupons at the dollar store.

Bic pens held up inside a dollar tree.

You can use your manufacturer coupons (like Bic coupons) on items at Dollar Tree to get cheap school supplies.

For example, if you see a coupon for $1/1 Bic stationery product, use it at your Dollar Tree on items marked $1.25 to get Bic-brand items like pens, pencils, and Cover-it for $0.25 each.

We got these for free in 2021, but thanks to Dollar Tree’s price hike, you’d have to pay at least $0.25 today — which still isn’t bad.

RELATED: 8 Dollar Tree School Supplies You Should Be Buying


5. Go back-to-school shopping for calculators at your local dollar store.

Calculators at dollar tree

One of our favorite back-to-school shopping hacks: Head to Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, or Dollar General when there aren’t back-to-school sales on items you need.

Shop for expensive supplies like calculators, planners, or clipboards at dollar stores to cut costs.

Sure, you might not find a graphing calculator at Dollar Tree, but you’ll find a basic calculator that’ll save you at least $10 – $15.

Related: See the deals on Dollar General school supplies we found during the back-to-school season (including a $2 off $10 coupon).


6. Shop Target clearance markdowns for kids’ back-to-school outfits on weekdays.

Clearance clothing racks at Target for up to 70% off

I can’t tell you exactly what day to do back-to-school shopping for kids’ clothing at Target because it varies by location, but I can say it’ll be a weekday. Get friendly with your Target associate and find out what the magical day for shopping for kids’ clothing is so you’re ready to get the best deals on back-to-school clothes.

If your kid really wants a back-to-school outfit that’s not on sale, check the price on Amazon before buying. Amazon carries familiar Target brands like C9 by Champion, as well as more common brands like Fruit of the Loom. All are free game for price matching too. Just show a Target cashier the Amazon price at checkout.

Get the complete guide to Target clearance so you’re in the know.


7. Don’t shop for back-to-school supplies at Target without checking the Target app.

Target app with the back to school page open on the screen.

Never, I repeat — never shop at Target without the Target app ever again.

When you have the Target app, you’ll get access to Target Circle offers like a percentage off a certain department (ahem — school supplies!). *You’ll also get 1% back on everything you buy. Actually, now through August 26, teachers, school staff, and college students can save 20% with Target Circle.

These offers aren’t always obvious when you’re in the store shopping. Sometimes a kind cashier will tell you about a Circle offer that applies to what you’re buying, but I wouldn’t rely on that.

TIP: *The 1% is only for non-RedCard holders. When you link your checking account to a Target RedCard, you can get 5% off everything instead of 1%. Target RedCard has benefits galore — it’s definitely worth considering!


8. Go back-to-school shopping for Target for $5 gift card deals.

Two target gift cards with a "Free Gift Card" behind.

Gift card deals can vary, but usually, we’ll see Target gift card deals perfect for making your life and budget better for back-to-school, like:

  • Buy 3 Hanes products, and receive a $5 Target gift card (think socks and undershirts)
  • Spend $50 on Tide products, receive a $15 Target gift card (think of all the extra laundry from extracurriculars)
  • Buy 2 Pampers Diapers Enormous packs, receive a $15 Target gift card (moms of babies always need these)

When it comes to using Target coupons, you can still use manufacturer and store coupons, but for in-store purchases only. Here’s how to coupon at Target so you don’t miss a single trick!


9. In 2023, Apple back-to-school sales include a gift card of up to $150 with select Mac and iPad purchases.

Woman looking at AirPods in the Apple Store.

In 2021, you got free AirPods when you purchased a Mac or iPad during the Apple back-to-school sale. Apple offered “education pricing” with savings of 20% on AppleCare, to boot. This deal was targeted more toward college students, but with everything going digital, a nice laptop may be an option for your tween as well!

You could find a similar deal in 2022 and 2023, but this time instead of free AirPods, you get a gift card of up to $150 when you purchase a Mac or iPad with education pricing.

See more Apple deals and find out how to save on Apple products.



10. Shop tax-free if your state allows it.

Tax free back to school sign on a door at Target

Hey, is your state not on the list? That means it doesn’t celebrate a tax holiday. And just note that some holidays already have passed, as those states go back to school earlier in the year.

  • Alabama: July 21 – 23, 2023 (clothing, computers, books, and school supplies)
  • Arkansas: August 5 – 6, 2023 (clothing and school supplies)
  • Connecticut: August 20 – 26, 2023 (clothing and footwear)
  • Florida: July 24 – August 6, 2023 (school supplies, clothing, and computers)
  • Illinois (reduced rate: 1.25%): August 5 – 14 (clothing and school supplies)
  • Iowa: August 4 – 5, 2023 (clothing and footwear)
  • Maryland: August 13 – 19, 2023 (clothing, footwear, and a backpack or bookbag)
  • Massachusetts: August 12 – 13, 2023 (most purchases under $2,500)
  • Mississippi: July 28 – 29, 2023 (clothing, footwear, and school supplies)
  • Missouri: August 4 – 6, 2023 (clothing, computers, and school supplies)
  • New Mexico: August 4 – 6, 2023 (clothing, computers, computer equipment, and school supplies)
  • Ohio: August 4 – 6, 2023 (clothing and school supplies)
  • Oklahoma: August 4 – 6, 2023 (clothing and footwear)
  • South Carolina: August 4 – 6, 2023 (clothing, school supplies, and computers)
  • Tennessee: July 28 – 30, 2023 (clothing, school supplies, and computers)
  • Texas: August 11 – 13, 2023 (clothing, backpacks, and school supplies)
  • West Virginia: August 4 – 7, 2023 (clothing, school supplies, sports equipment, and computers)

States like Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon are always tax-free states.

Learn more about shopping tax-free weekend, which retailers to visit, and what items to buy.


11. Shop for back-to-school clothes at Old Navy on Monday morning.

50% off sales sign inside Old Navy.

Old Navy marks “price cuts” on Sunday, so typically I’ll try to hit the store Sunday night or Monday morning.

Unless there’s a specific back-to-school sale. In 2023, you can find up to 60% off select styles. Clothing starts at just $5. In 2022, Old Navy ran a one-day sale in August where you could get 50% off most everything. We saw $8 kids graphic tees and $10 kids’ uniform shorts.

If you’d rather shop online, check out these Old Navy deals to guide your purchasing decisions. Also, read how to save every time you shop at Old Navy.


12. Shop at JCPenney for back-to-school clothes with sales and coupons.

Kids back to school section inside JCPenney

In early August 2022, shoppers could get back-to-school clothes and shoes for an additional 40% off (on top of sale prices) at JCPenney. A week or so later, we saw 50% off jeans and school uniforms for as low as $7.49 (polos, skirts, and more).

Here are a few more JCPenney shopping tips you’ll want to know.


13. Buy discounted gift cards from Raise and CardBear to save up to 26%.

Woman holding four Old Navy gift cards near a cart

Always check Raise and CardBear before you go shopping. You’ll end up saving a ton of money upfront by purchasing discounted digital gift cards. Here are savings we’ve seen at some of the biggest retailers:

  • Walgreens: 14.4% savings
  • The Children’s Place: 7% savings
  • Office Depot: 6.8% savings
  • Michaels: 23.6% savings
  • JCP: 12% savings
  • Old Navy: 20% savings
  • Staples: 4.5% savings
  • Kohl’s: 5.1% savings
  • Target: 10% savings
  • Walmart: 12% savings

Find out why discounted gift cards are one of the best shopping tips out there. Plus, they’re easy to use!


14. Decode price tags in order to know if you’re getting the lowest. price. possible!

Orange clearance tags on two gap price tags.

Every store has a different secret coding system, and learning how to decode the secret language of price tags is key to saving you money. Here are some examples:

  • Gap prices ending in $0.97 are final markdowns, referred to as “price kills.”
  • Old Navy clearance ends in a 7 or 9. Usually, prices ending in $0.47 are final markdowns.
  • T.J. Maxx yellow price tags indicate final markdowns.
  • Kohl’s uses a square in the upper-right corner of their LCD price tag to indicate the item has reached the lowest price of the season.



15. Sign up for text or email coupons to save on back-to-school items.

Someone holding up a phone with Kohl's text message coupons on the screen

Make sure you’ve signed up for all of these text and email coupons before you start back-to-school shopping, even if you’re buying school supplies online.

  • H&M: Join H&M’s free loyalty program and get 10% off your next purchase, plus $5 in rewards.
  • Gap: Sign up for Gap emails for a 25% off coupon (scroll to the bottom of the page to sign up if you don’t get a popup to register).
  • Kohl’s: Sign up for Kohl’s emails and get 15% off.
  • Macy’s: Create a Macy’s profile and get 25% off your next order.
  • The Children’s Place: Sign up for The Children’s Place text alerts and get 20% off.

Note that these will only work the first time you sign up. Here’s your guide to the best free store loyalty programs.


16. Shop Macy’s for dorm room essentials like $10 toaster ovens and luxury sheets for dirt cheap.

Someone looking at a Bella toaster oven at Macy's

Deck your dorm room with the best back-to-school supplies for cheap. Last August we saw $180 sheet sets on sale for as low as $29.99!

In 2022 during Macy’s Black Friday in July sale, kitchen appliances like toaster ovens, blenders, and waffle makers, along with cookware sets, were just $10 after the sale price. A few years ago, Macy’s offered mail-in rebates on these items, but that didn’t happen last year, so don’t expect to see it in 2023 either. Even so, prices were low. Keep an eye on cheap appliances through the summer on our Macy’s deals page.


17. Purchase back-to-school backpacks online for up to 75% off.

An unzipped Adidas backpack

If your kid is a little older, and eBags carry sportier, more stylish back-to-school backpacks and trendy brands than say, Walmart. They’re a bit pricier if you’re just looking at the bottom line, but the value is better. You’re getting a $128 bag for $42, for example.

Plus, if you shop their summer sales, you can snag hip bags without burning a hole in your pocket. (And if you’re interested in finding lifetime warranty backpacks, we can point you in the right direction.)

TIP: Sign up for eBags’ newsletter and get up to 15% off your first purchase. If you don’t get a popup with this offer, scroll to the bottom of the home page and you’ll see where to input your email address.


18. Spend your rewards from drugstores—CVS or Walgreens—on school supplies.

a hand pushing a cart full of school supplies

When you’re couponing at Walgreens or couponing at CVS, you’ll earn loyalty reward points that you can spend like cash at the store where you earned them.

A great shopping strategy is to use these points on back-to-school supplies.

Last August, Walgreens had back-to-school backpacks on sale for $4 during a BOGO-free sale. This August 2023, you can find Walgreens deals for $1 or less until August 12.

TIP: If you want to shop smarter, check out these Walgreens deals and CVS deals.


19. Buy markers and paint supplies from Michaels or JOANN.

School art supplies in a cart at Michaels

Michaels and JOANN offer coupons and discounts every week. We’ve seen coupons for 25% off your entire purchase and 40% off one regular-priced item.

Michaels and JOANN both allow multiple coupons per transaction, as long as they’re different types of coupons. That means you can stack a dollar-off coupon with a percent-off coupon from a different source (mobile, mailer, etc.).

TIP: If you’re a teacher, you can save 15% on every order by enrolling in the JOANN teacher rewards program.


20. For one-stop back-to-school shopping, go to Walmart.

Two women Back-to-School shopping at Walmart.

If you can’t wait for sales or stock-up prices or you don’t want to make multiple shopping trips, Walmart is your jam.

You’ll get everyday low prices, and when it comes to back-to-school supplies, Walmart lives up to the hype.

Plus, Walmart offers their NextDay Delivery service in select locations (if your Walmart offers it, you’ll see “Delivery” available when you look up your Walmart store online).

NextDay is only available for items labeled “NextDay eligible” — but lots of back-to-school items qualify, like some calculators, uniforms, and even school supplies like notepads and pencil cases. Just spend $35 or more to get your delivery free of charge.

While you’re shopping at Walmart, check out Walmart coupons. Also, learn how to coupon at Walmart so you have the insider info you need to save big.

Buy Walmart backpacks for super cheap now.

ONLINE or In-Store Deal
Shipping: Free with Walmart+ or on orders of $35+
Pickup: Free
ONLINE or In-Store Deal
Shipping: Free with Walmart+ or on orders of $35+
Pickup: Free

21. Use rebate apps like Ibotta to save on school supplies after your purchase.

Woman holding a phone out in front of her, pointed towards the camera, with the ibotta app open on it.

Rebate apps offer you cash back after you make a purchase and it’s super easy to do — just upload a picture of your receipt, and apps like Ibotta and Checkout51 will put money in your PayPal account.

In 2023, you could get free Paper Mate ballpoint pens with rebates (see deal below). In 2022, at Walmart, Target, and H-E-B, Ibotta offered rebates for free school supplies. You could get free notebooks, erasers, pencils, Kleenex, and more.

Get the free ultimate guide to rebate apps so you know all the ins and outs.

Paper Mate Ballpoint Pens 20-Count Multicolor
In-Store Deal
As low as-$0.11$2.89(104% off)
Mobile coupons needed
5% off - Target RedCard Savings
Price Summary
Pay $1.89, submit for $1.25 Ibotta credit and $0.75 Fetch Rewards credit


22. Use the Amazon app to do real-time price checks.

a person price checking in walmart with their iphone

Buying Amazon school supplies is a legit strategy when the price is right (refer to the KCL Back-to-School Stock-Up Price List, of course). Sometimes Amazon is the cheapest.

To compare prices, use the Amazon app (iOS / Android) to scan the item inside Target or wherever you’re shopping. If Amazon’s price is cheaper, you could technically place an Amazon order right then and there.

Or you could just march that cheaper Amazon price that’s pulled up on your phone over to customer service and request a price match (at stores that allow price matching. More on this next!)

Check out these Amazon deals for even better ways to save! And don’t forget to shop during Amazon Prime Day for deep savings just before the back-to-school season.


23. Utilize price matching at stores like Staples, Target, and more.

a hand holding up a staples store ad

Use price matching to your advantage — especially when back-to-school shopping. These stores will all give you a competitor’s price when you bring in proof like an advertisement.

  • Staples: Staples’ price matching policy claims they’ll match a competitor’s price on identical items.
  • JCPenney: JCPenney’s price match policy makes it so you can get a competitor’s price on identical items.
  • Kohl’s: Kohl’s price match policy gives you a competitor’s in-store price if you bring the ad with you while shopping in-store.
  • Target: Target’s price match policy will lower your price if you find the identical item cheaper on, a select online competitor’s site, or in a competitor or Target print ad.
  • Office Depot/OfficeMax: Office Depot and Office Max’s price match policy will match an item if you find it cheaper somewhere else. Just bring in proof of the competitor’s price.
  • JoAnn: JoAnn’s price match policy says they’ll match advertised prices on identical merchandise.

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