26 Back-to-School Shopping Hacks That’ll Save You All the Money
The second week of July through the last week of August is when retailers offer the best back-to-school shopping deals — which means it’s stock-up season!
To have the best back-to-school shopping experience, you MUST follow KCL’s Back-to-School page (once you visit the page, you’ll have the chance to “opt in” for back-to-school emails).
Also, download the KCL app to have KCL’s Back-to-School page and all the deals right at your fingertips.
Now, check out all the ways you can save when you’re back-to-school shopping:
1. Memorize stock-up prices before you start back-to-school shopping so you recognize the best deals.
It’s so easy to know when to buy and when to wait for a better price while you’re doing back-to-school shopping.
Download the KCL Back-to-School Stock-up List in order to have it handy right there on your smartphone while you’re shopping.
3 month stock-up price: $1.00 each
6 month stock-up price: $0.79 each
Colored pencils, 12ct.
3 month stock-up price: $1.00/pkg
6 month stock-up price: $0.85/pkg
3 month stock-up price: $0.25 each
6 month stock-up price: $0.20 each
Crayons, 24 ct.
3 month stock-up price: $0.30/box
6 month stock-up price: $0.25/box
Mechanical pencils, 5 ct.
3 month stock-up price: $0.50/pkg
6 month stock-up price: $0.25/pkg
Spiral notebook, 1 subject
3 month stock-up price: $0.25 each
6 month stock-up price: $0.18 each
Here’s the full KCL back-to-school stock-up price list.
2. Buy calculators from your local dollar store.
Shop for expensive back-to-school supplies like calculators, planners or clipboards at dollar stores in order 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.
3. Look for coupons, especially on brands like Bic, Kleenex and Post-it.
Watch for manufacturer and store coupons from office supply brands during July and August. Redeem the manufacturer coupons on sale items for the biggest savings. Specifically, look for:
- Magazine coupons like the ones from Parenting are a fantastic source of coupons for back-to-school.
- Sunday newspaper coupons from sources like RedPlum, 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 of products. Walgreens usually has lots of school supply coupons in the weekly ad in the front of the store.
- Printable coupons for school supplies become available while summer is still in full swing, so warm up your printer!
4. Get pens, pencils and Cover-it for free with coupons at the dollar store.
Use your manufacturer coupons (like Bic coupons) on items at the dollar store to get a freebie.
For example, if you see a Bic coupon for $1.00/1 Bic stationary product, use this coupon at your dollar store on items marked $1.00 to get Bic-brand items like pens, pencils and Cover-it for free.
There are actually dozens of name-brand school supplies you can get at the dollar store.
5. Buy markers and paint supplies from Michaels or Jo-Ann.
Michaels and Jo-Ann Fabrics 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 Jo-Ann both allow multiple coupons per transaction, as long as they’re different types of coupons. Meaning, you can stack a dollar-off coupon with a percent-off coupon from a different source (mobile, mailer, etc.).
TIP: If you are a teacher, you can save 15% on every order by enrolling for Jo-Ann teacher rewards program.
6. Purchase character backpacks from Hollar.com.
If you haven’t heard of Hollar, you’re seriously missing out! I’m obsessed with this website — especially around back-to-school shopping season.
Hollar is a great way to shop school supplies online. Backpacks, for example, range in price from $5-$10 and feature Marvel, Star Wars and Disney characters.
Learn more about how to shop back-to-school supplies online.
You’ll be saving anywhere from 10% to 50% with tons of different color and style options.
TIP: Sign up for emails at eBags and get 25% off your first order.
8. Shop tax-free if your state allows it.
Hey, your state not on the list? Road trip time!
- Alabama: July 19-21, 2019 (clothing, computers, books and school supplies)
- Arkansas: August 3-4, 2019 (clothing and school supplies)
- Connecticut: August 18-24, 2019 (clothing and footwear)
- Florida: August 2-4, 2019 (school supplies, clothing and computers)
- Iowa: August 2-3, 2019 (clothing)
- Maryland: August 11-17, 2019 (clothing and footwear)
- Mississippi: July 26-27, 2019 (clothing and footwear)
- Missouri: August 2-4, 2019 (clothing, computers and school supplies)
- New Mexico: August 2-4, 2019 (clothing, computers, computer equipment and school supplies)
- Ohio: August 2-4, 2019 (clothing and school supplies)
- Oklahoma: August 2-4, 2019 (clothing)
- South Carolina: August 2-4, 2019 (clothing, school supplies and computers)
- Tennessee: July 26-28, 2019 (clothing, school supplies and computers)
- Texas: August 9-11, 2019 (clothing, backpacks and school supplies)
- Virginia: August 2-4, 2019 (clothing, school supplies and energy star products)
States like Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon are always tax-free states.
9. Hit up Target for $5 gift card deals.
Gift card deals can vary. The most common deal we see is “Buy two, receive a $5 gift card.” Other variations include:
- Buy 3, receive $5.00
- Spend $20.00, receive $5.00
- Spend $25.00, receive $5.00
You can use any type of coupon — manufacturer coupons or store coupons and still earn the gift card for this promotion.
10. Spend your rewards from drugstores — CVS or Walgreens — on school supplies.
A great shopping strategy is to use these points on back-to-school supplies.
Last July, Walgreens had backpacks on sale for $3.00.
Check out how we’ve saved 80% on 21 back-to-school supplies at Walgreens in past years.
11. Shop on Sunday and Monday — supplies run out quickly.
Weekly sales start Sunday mornings, and back-to-school inventory isn’t always restocked quickly (or at all if you’re shopping in August).
12. For one-stop shopping, go to 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.
13. Utilize price matching at stores like Staples, Target and more.
Use price matching to your advantage — especially when shopping for back-to-school items. These stores all offer price matching!
- Staples: Staples will match a competitor’s price on identical items, plus give you an extra 10% discount.
- JCP: This is more like a price adjustment meets a price match. Get 5% back if you find a lower price after you make a JCP purchase.
- Kohl’s: Get a competitor’s in-store price at Kohl’s when you bring in a competing ad. They won’t match online prices.
- Office Depot/OfficeMax
- Jo-Ann Fabrics
14. Use the Amazon app to do real-time price checks.
Use the Amazon app in-store to check prices so you get the lowest price possible..
If Amazon’s price is cheaper, you could technically place an Amazon order right then and there. Buying Amazon school supplies is a legit strategy when the price is right (refer to the KCL Back-to-School Stock-Up Price List)!
But instead, you could just march that cheaper Amazon price on your phone up to customer service and request a price match.
15. Sign up for text or email coupons to save on school clothes.
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.
- Gap: Sign up for Gap emails for a 25% off coupon.
- Kohl’s: Text SAVE15 to KOHLS 564-57 to get 15% off your next order.
- Macy’s: Save 25% when you create a free Macy’s profile.
- The Children’s Place: Enter you email in the pop-up offer box when you first visit for a “$10 off your next purchase” coupon.
16. Shop Target clearance markdowns for kids on Mondays.
Every Monday, Target marks down their kids’ clothing — so make sure you’re ready to shop to score the best back-to-school clothing deals.
Learn more secrets to help you save on clothes at Target.
17. Shop for clothes at Old Navy on Friday morning.
Old Navy marks “price cuts” on Thursday, so typically I’ll try to hit the store Friday morning. Clearance markdowns happen on Monday night, so I also shop Tuesday.
18. Check thrift stores, Freecycle and Craigslist for used school supplies.
Thrift stores always have an aisle for office supplies: binders, markers, calculators, you name it.
Craigslist is another great place to find items like rulers, calculators, and staplers on the cheap. Make sure to check out the “free stuff” section on Craigslist too!
Freecycle will show you all free items people are giving away for no cost in your area, which may include some school supplies.
19. Buy discounted gift cards from Raise or Gift Card Granny to save up to 13%.
- Walgreens: 15.02% savings
- The Children’s Place: 12.3% savings
- Office Depot: 12.5% savings
- Michaels: 12.1% savings
- JCP: 10.7% savings
- Old Navy: 8.5% savings
- Staples: 6.6% savings
- Kohl’s: 7% savings
- Target: 4% savings
- Walmart: 1% savings
Learn all the gift card hacks so you can save more money.
20. Use Ibotta and Checkout51 to save on school supplies after your purchase.
21. Shop through Ebates to get cash back every time you shop.
When you’re buying school supplies online, just initiate your purchases through Ebates to get cash back.
For example, you can get up to 5% back when you shop Walmart online through Ebates.
22. Don’t buy school supplies at Target without checking the Target app.
Never, I repeat — never shop at Target without the Target app ever again.
When you have the Target app, you’ll get access to Cartwheel offers like percentage off a certain department (ahem — school supplies!).
23. Shop at JCPenney for back-to-school clothes with sales and coupons.
At the very end of July, JCPenney offered kid’s polo uniform shirts for $5.00 (reg. $22.00).
A few weeks before the uniform polo sale, JCPenney offered the same polo shirts “Buy one, get two free,” or $7.33 each.
In August we saw girls’ leggings marked down to $4.99 (reg. $14.00), plus you could use a promo code to get an extra 15% off.
24. Shop for school clothes at Macy’s on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Macy’s tends to start in-store markdowns on Sundays. Which means shopping Tuesday or Wednesday will be the best times to score newly marked-down apparel.
25. Sign up for Paribus for automatic price adjustments.
Planning to buy school supplies online? Let Paribus do all the heavy lifting for you when it comes to getting a price adjustment even after you make a purchase.
Paribus will request a price adjustment on your behalf when an item you bought online at one of the stores they monitor goes on sale.
Best part? Paribus is 100% free.
If you’re wondering if Paribus is safe, we’ve got you covered.
26. Decode price tags in order to know if you’re getting the lowest. price. possible!
Every store has a different secret coding system, and learning how to decode the secret language of price tags is key in 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.
Articles & Pages You Might Also Like:
- KCL’s Best Back-to-School Deals
- 32 Back-to-School Organization Tips That Will Simplify Your Life
- 12 Amazing Lunchbox Hacks & School Lunch Ideas
- 13 Stunning Washi Tape Back-to-School Hacks