Wondermom » Home » Shopping » School Supply Shopping Strategies

School Supply Shopping Strategies

Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links. As an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Although it may seem that we’re only halfway through summer break, back-to-school shopping is right around the corner. While the words “back to school” might bring a wide grin to your face, you remember visiting five different stores to find the jumbo glue sticks, not the regular glue sticks found in abundance at every store, are specifically listed on the school supply list.

To make matters worse, the jumbo glue sticks aren’t on sale so you end up buying two regular glue sticks for 25 cents each instead of one jumbo glue stick for $2.00 and you decide to ignore the $5 in gas it took you to drive all over town on your search. Or perhaps your quest was for the two-pocket folder WITH holes which were nowhere to be found so you finally bought the kind without and punched the holes yourself.

All of us have school supply shopping horror stories, but thankfully we have learned a few things from them. Here’s my guide to help you navigate back-to-school shopping with your sanity and budget intact.

Shop The Ads

I am a bargain hunter so I thoroughly enjoy scanning flyers and finding the best deals. Each Sunday (starting in mid-July for back-to-school shopping), I go through the newspaper inserts for Wal-Mart, Target, Staples, Office Depot, Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreen’s to see what’s on sale for the week.

Short on time and/or patience? Stick to the front page of each flyer where they typically display the best bargains. This strategy is particularly effective for scoring deals at Staples and Office Depot where they will offer 1¢, 10¢, and 25¢ deals that are only good while supplies last.

Take Advantage of Tax-Free Weekend

If you aren’t the ad-scouring type and prefer to knock out all your shopping at once, your best bet is to hit the stores on tax-free weekend if you live in a participating state. During tax-free weekend, participating states waive sales tax on school supplies.

Rules and dates vary from state-to-state, though most participating states hold these in August. Click here for a list of participating states, tax-free dates, and links for more information. Since you won’t be paying sales tax, this is like getting an automatic 5-10% discount (depending on your state’s sales tax rate). In addition, many stores run special stores during this period to draw you to their store instead of a competitor’s.

Shop Early

Hate scanning ads AND don’t live in a tax-free holiday state? Shop early!

The closer to the start of school you get, the harder it will be to find the items you need. Also, once stores put school supplies on sale, they rarely discount them further except for a few special items.

I know there are some of you who are going to resist the shop-early strategy. You’ve been the victim of buying every item on the school supply list only to be met with an entirely different list on the first day of school from your child’s teacher.

Or perhaps your school is slow in publishing a supply list and you don’t want to guess. Here are two facts you need to remember when this fear starts to get the better of you.

First, though it might be hard for you to predict that a blue 1” binder will be required for music class, you can safely assume that younger students will need crayons, safety scissors, glue sticks, and hand sanitizer.

Everyone from 2nd grade up is going to need pencils, paper, and erasers. And all students from elementary to high school are going to need tissues. You won’t be able to guess everything they will need, but you can figure out most of it even without a list.

Second, if you snag too many glue sticks when they are on sale for 10¢ a pack, you can keep the extras to use at home for homework, donate them to a charity that provides school supplies to needy children, or combine them with other school supply extras in a basket for teacher as a Christmas, Teacher Appreciation Week, or end-of-year gift.


22 thoughts on “School Supply Shopping Strategies”

  1. Great tips! You can definitely get some good deals shopping the ads and in advance – that way, at least you can stock up on the more general things that you will need.

  2. Wow! What a generous company. If more businesses around the world were like this, we’d live in such a better one.

  3. My “little one” just graduated from college, so I don’t have to worry about back to school shopping! I do love to go and by new crayons every year, they are so pretty and smell good too!

    • I can’t even imagine that day, though sadly I think it is coming faster than I want. I agree–new crayons in all their pretty colors are a pleasant sight to behold. 🙂

  4. Never knew about school shopping horror stories. Good to know tho for when my kiddos are old enough, ill be doing it early and shop the sales.

  5. I really am not looking forward to this. My daughter starts High School this year and I know she will need more this year. I think I might have to start early this year. Thank you for the coupon.

  6. unfortunately we don’t have such tax free weekend over here but there are places we can buy it at a really cheaper price.

  7. These are all great ideas. Thank you for bringing to light the tax free date. I will need to check this out in our area. We have quite a list this year for middle school.

  8. I don’t know if I live in a tax free state or not! I’m gonna have to check! While we don’t need too many school supplies anymore, we need lots of notebooks! Every bit of savings helps!

  9. I will definitely be shopping on tax free weekend! Thanks for reminding me. School supplies are already out at Walmart and some things are only .25 cents. I love Back to School reviews – good one here!!

  10. Oh my… it is getting to be that time of year again. Summer has gone by way fast. Tissues are very important to have on the list and White Cloud is our #1 tissue here.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.