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Save On Back-to-School Expenses

It’s officially August, and for many parents this means it’s time for their children to go back to school. There’s a lot of excitement that can surround the start of a new school year, with kids looking forward to new teachers, learning new things, and making new friends. However, with all the excitement, a new school year can also bring a lot of stress for parents. Going back to school often requires back to school shopping, and the cost of this can add up quickly. According to the National Retail Federation, in 2019 families were expected to spend1 an average of $696.70 on back-to-school costs for elementary through high-school kids, and $976.78 on back-to-school supplies for college students. Overall, studies show the cost of back-to-school expenses have been on an upward trend since 2007, and if the trend continues this means back-to-school costs will only get more expensive in the future. No need to worry though, because we’re here to give you some tips that can help you save as you complete your back-to-school shopping.

Leftover Supplies from Last Year

Remember the tips we had for easy spring cleaning?  If you missed it, please feel free to check it out! One of the tips we had was to declutter your home, and believe it or not, this could help you with your back-to-school shopping too. As you go through your belongings, you may find school supplies from the previous year that weren’t used. You may need to check them against any school supply lists your child’s teacher has provided, but you may be able to use these school supplies this year. Doing so will ensure no money was wasted on last years’ school supplies and will allow you to cut down on the amount of supplies you’ll need to buy this year.  

Shop Around

When shopping for school supplies, you may want to get in and get out as quickly as you can, especially since stores can be busy during back-to-school shopping. While it may be more convenient to do all your shopping in one place, you could be spending more money to do so and missing out on opportunities to save. Instead, shop around at different stores and take advantage of the different deals they may be running. One store may have a sale on one item, while another store could be offering a sale on a completely different item. You can usually check out the deals a store is running online at their website, so it should be easy to see where the best deals are for what you need. By shopping around at different stores, you can be sure you’re maximizing your savings and getting the most bang for your buck.


We know what you’re probably thinking; “Couponing? That’s so time consuming!” While clipping coupons can be a tedious process, it’s a great way to find some extra savings.2 There’s no need to be an “extreme couponer” either, as finding even a few coupons can help you save a few bucks, and those few bucks can add up! Oftentimes stores will offer a newspaper near the entrance with their daily or weekly deals. Or, if you shop online, many stores will advertise available coupons for an item and allow you to virtually clip the coupon directly on the website or within their app.

Tax Free Holidays

As some of you may be aware, some states have what are known as tax free holidays. This is exactly what it sounds like – a period in which certain products, sometimes with a price cap, can be purchased tax free, and a popular category for these holidays are back-to-school supplies. We’ve all likely seen just how fast tax can add up and the cost it can add to your bill, so shopping tax free can add up to some big savings especially if coupled with the suggestions listed above. Not all states have tax free holidays, so to see if your state participates3, and if so the items included and any price caps, the Federation of Tax Administrators has a list for your convenience.

Back-to-school shopping can get quite expensive, and costs can add up fast, but hopefully with the tips and tricks we’ve covered here you can find some good savings. Feel free to check out the Cash Central Blog for more budgeting tips and budgeting tools that can help you save more of your hard-earned money.   


1McGinty, Mary. (2019, Jul 15). Retrieved from: https://nrf.com/media-center/press-releases/record-spending-expected-school-and-college-supplies

2Polom, Cameron. (2022, May 4). Retrieved from: https://www.abc15.com/news/smart-shopper/study-shows-couponing-could-save-average-households-1-000-per-year

3Federation of Tax Administrators. Retrieved from: https://taxadmin.org/sales-tax-holidays/