30 Back-to-School Shopping Tricks & Tips from Frugal Lifestyle Bloggers

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30 Back-to-School Shopping Tricks & Tips from Frugal Lifestyle Bloggers

Want to save more money on back-to-school supplies this year? As the fall shopping season swings into high gear, we asked the savvy savings experts in the Dealspotr Influencer Network to share their best inside tricks to saving more money on back-to-school shopping.  We've compiled their tips into this easy-to-read guide to using coupons and employing savings strategies to spend less and get more on back-to-school supplies.

Wait for tax-free weekend

Some states run a tax-free weekend when certain items become exempt from sales tax. Couponers are well aware of these dates, and focus their back-to-school shopping on them.

If your state has a tax free weekend, take advantage of it. That coupled with coupons and already low prices can equal huge savings. For after school snacks and lunch box treats buy in bulk. Sam's, BJ's and Costco are your best friends. - Michelle Delgado of Most Awesome Mom

Shop the week after school starts

The best time to shop back to school is about a few weeks after kids go back to school. Everything goes on clearance. Think of it like holidays..once the holiday is over everything gets marked down. So your biggest savings are going to be after your local school district goes back wait about a week or two after to do your school shopping. If you must get the supplies right away check Dollar Tree and Staples for the cheapest sales. - Nicole of Mom's Coupon Binder

My best hack is to shop the after schools starts sales. You can find all the items for pennies. Put them all in a big Rubbermaid container and label it school supplies. At the end of each year, my kids always bring home many unused school supplies. Put those into the Rubbermaid containers too. This week while we were looking at our school supplies list I had 8 Rubbermaid containers to pull out and we found many of our items on the list in there. Last tip. Target often has a lot of these items on their cartwheel app, so use that and shop the clearance area for great deals! - Sara LaFountain of Cook With 5 Kids

Always wait a day or two after school starts to purchase your supplies. Sometimes teachers will change their mind about what you really need. Or, they'll tell students that certain things on the list are really optional - or not needed until the 2nd semester. Plus, you'll be able to stock up on the clearance prices. - Ellen LaFleche-Christian of Confessions of an Overworked Mom

Shop in groups

Find a friend (or friends!) at the school and buy in bulk with coupons! Many retailers offer better prices on the larger packs of items and there are great coupon codes out there to save even more. Have you signed up for their emails? Often times that nets you a 15-25% off purchase coupon. Perfect when buying things like folders or notebooks online! - Kristina Bainbridge of Savory Savings

Go in with friends and buy school supplies at a large wholesale store like BJ's or Sam's. Always search for coupons on supplies you'll need. For instance, search "Notebook paper coupons". Find a coupon match up website that will give you info on a particular store's sales and what coupons are available for those items. And when school supplies go on deep clearance this year, snap them up for next year! - Vicky Floyd of Coupondipity

Use coupons at dollar stores

I never spend over $15.00 for school supplies. My biggest tip is use coupons at dollar stores, many people do not realize you can do this! - Debra Barrows of Crossing New Bridges

Try SchoolToolBox

I went through every school supplies item for Walmart, and it came out to over $150. I went online to School Tool Box and I found everything I needed for under $100 with free delivery. I was able to skip the crowds and long lines! - Mandi Eschenbach of Sweet Tiny Blessings

Buy in bulk & stock up for next year

Buy in bulk and re-use the extra! For example, extra supplies can be used to fill Operation Christmas Child boxes at holiday time. The white t-shirts my kids need for art class, I buy in my husband's size and refresh his t-shirt stash every fall with the extra. Similarly, I restock our own art supply stash at home, or I will even buy a large box of pencils and save half for the next year. As for the class lists of what donations the teachers would like? I match the two lists up for commonalities. This year, both listed sanitizing wipes, glue sticks, hand sanitizer and markers, so I bought all these items and bulk and split them up. Bulk-buying is the way to go! - Meredith Spidel of Mom of the Year

When we purchase school supplies and find a fantastic sale, we stock up not just for this year, but for future years, too! We have a HUGE box of three-prong folders, tons of glue, loose-leaf paper, binders, pens and MORE from gigantic sales from the past. We can skip half the shopping list year after year with our "stock" and we replenish every year with additional sales we find. - Lisa Douglas of Crazy Adventures in Parenting

We "stock up" on items that we know we will use over the course of the year. School supplies & clothing are on sale now so we will buy enough to last the year. This only works if you are not using credit for your purchases. Buying more than you can afford and using credit to pay will often cause you to spend more in the long run. Shop smart!  - PennyMindingMom

Try these Office Depot savings hacks

It's important to shop around and maximize your budget with coupons. Shopping weekly penny sales at stores like Office Depot will allow you to buy your more expensive item (like a backpack) and then get tons of additional smaller items (like index cards, highlighters, etc.) for just one penny after the fact. This can give you some huge savings! - Sarah Flowers of YesWeCoupon

The Office Supply Stores and Walgreens is where the deals are at. With Office Depot/Office Max penny deals you can't go wrong! Get the best deals to reach your $5.00 limit each week and the penny deals and that is it. I get enough supplies to last all year long there. If they are out, Staples is my go to. With their 110% Price Match Guarantee, I can't go wrong. I bought a $20 Stapler for under a $1.00 this year! I also love Walgreens deals. I go in for only the lowest priced items. I even do a Back To School Series on the website to show you the best deals at these locations. For $10-$15 a week (in an average of 10 weeks), you can stock up on your children's school supplies all year long! - Jailee Singer of You Saved How Much

Stock up on back to school items for almost free at Office Depot. Get multiples by bringing someone with you to do a transaction. - Lisa Green of Coupon Girls LA

Use Walmart's Savings Catcher

As a mother of five I've learned that the best way to save money on back to school supplies is to save and re-use supplies from the previous year. My kids had old folders that were not ripped so we saved them for this school year. I usually shop at Wal-Mart for nearly everything for my household including school supplies because they have this app called "Savings Catcher." You scan your Walmart reciept after you are done shopping with the app and they compare the prices of all the other stores in your area and they make sure their prices are the lowest. If they are not the lowest they pay you the difference. You can place the money you get from the Wal-Mart savings catcher into a special debit card, Blue Bird, sponsored by American Express and use the money for future purchases at Wal-Mart.  - Cascia Talbert of Healthy Mom's Magazine

Look for bags / pre-filled sets of school supplies

Stay away from brand names and trends! Wal-Mart now sells a bag of common school supplies for $15 and it includes everything kids need for back to school. - Vanessa Page of Vanessa's Money

This year I was new in town, and I went out and spent about $150 on school supplies. Anything I saved was pure blind hog luck with whatever was on sale at Walmart that day. But at least I was finished. Then the next day I got an email from my children's new school. It read, "If you'd like our school to provide the supplies for you, simply turn in a $20 check by Friday." That was $20 per kid. I'd just spent $50. Don't be a chump like I was. Always check first to see if the school has a pre-packed box of supplies that you can simply purchase from them for MAJOR savings. - April of Stories of Our Boys

Setup a swap with other parents

Set up a uniform swap with the other parents. Our school has a Facebook page where parents can post items that they no longer require and then other parents can either buy, borrow or just have the items. It's a great way of saving money and also reducing the amount of waste we produce. - Gina Caro of Gypsy Soul

Buy generic

My wife and I like to shop at dollar stores to save money on back to school supplies. We often get wrapped up in buying our children the best, name brand products. But, when it comes right down to it – crayons are crayons. Generic and off brand school supplies serve our children just as well as popular name brand school supplies, and they can save parents a ton of money as well. - Hank Coleman of Money Q&A

Skip the character backpacks and notebooks, which have a huge sticker price and usually an issue with quality. Instead, get some plain school supplies and some basic art tools – paint, markers, stickers, and even colorful duct tape. Then let your kid’s imagination run wild. He’ll have a blast decorating and personalizing his school gear while you save money! - Megan Nye of Prioritized Living

Don’t follow the trends: forget the fluffy pencil cases or the latest and greatest rucksack/handbag, as these will just be ‘old news’ a couple months down the line. Stick to basics. Single coloured pencil cases and bags are cheaper than the latest designs, put you can also find ways to customise these to make them suit your style. Decorate backs with badges and keyrings galore. Decorate pencil cases with stickers. These are also fun little projects you can do to get creative, but in the end you are left with school supplies you love, but wouldn’t be able to buy anywhere else! - Kayleigh Bestwick of Scampi & Chips

Shop in early August

You will get the lowest prices on school stationery if you shop in early August. Staples has bargains you won’t find after school starts. Bring your school list there. There will be money-savings promotions on backpacks too. Grocery stores have great deals on pens, pencil, and notebooks. Wait until the last week of August through the first week of September for summer clothing for those warm first days. Sneakers should be discounted most of the month of August. During the first week in October you will find the greatest savings on jeans. - Georgine Kaczmare of Georgine Saves

Go reusable

One way to save is I pack both my daughter's lunches and use reusable bottles, cloth napkins, a reusable placemat that folds up, utensils, and plastic containers and/or bento boxes to pack their food. For clothes we search yard sales and thrift stores. Back to school supplies we stock up on deals from the year before and hit the 1 cent deals at Staples when they have them. Dollar Tree has great resources also. We reuse backpacks and lunch bags from previous years until they are no longer holding up. - Jill of Blessings of a Stay-at-Home Mom

Download each store's mobile app

Besides finding coupons, we've found that some stores will price match. We also use store apps! Many retailers have their own apps and offer coupons and deals that are exclusive to those who've downloaded their apps. They can often be paired with coupons you already have! - Dusty Pendleton of As Mom Sees It

MY best money saving hack is to download all the apps for the different retailers. Especially if you are shopping for fashionable clothes for back to school. It is on the apps you will find amazing deals for chic fashion, without breaking the bank! - Valerie Hansen of Maple Leopard

Do your back-to-school shopping in spring

Try to grab your back to school supplies right before school is about to end. I have found that since school is almost over. The prices drop to get rid of what they have. Office depot / Office Max and Target are big on this. - Eric of CrunkAtlanta

Stack coupons

Stacking coupons on top of sales! Best way to get to use multiple coupons along with sales that are already going on. I love shopping the Back To School sales. Everything is already low, so when stacking coupons on top you get to save the maximum. - Lauren Cheely of Southern Mammas Reviews

Ask for discounts

Ask for discounts. When you shop, ask the owner or salesperson if there are any discounts or deals. You can also contact companies of products you like. Tell them how much you enjoy the product and ask for any coupons or samples.  - Rachel Belkin of Cha Ching Queen

Use Sears Shop Your Way

With a free Shop Your Way account, (rewards program for Sears and Kmart) not only will you save a ton with their promotions, you will earn points on every purchase which you can use on your next purchase. You can get necessities for close to free when you begin to learn all the ways to save. - Lori Felix of More With Less Today

Stick to the basics

My tip is to go into the school prepared but don't get "everything" on your list as you may end up spending too much. Grab the basics (in my school, the basic requests are pencils, teams of paper and Kleenex), USE COUPONS WHEN POSSIBLE and hold off on the other items. Teachers may have some supplies prepared for their students already and you don't need to provide them. For gosh sake, just because it's "back to school" that doesn't mean go crazy getting school supplies-no matter how enjoyable the spending may be! I always have to curb my spending desire before my kids return to school. Stick to the basics. Trust me. - Kristi Gilbert of The Robot Mommy

And of course, use Dealspotr!

You can do your back to school shopping for free or nearly free by getting involved with a coupon site like Dealspotr. You can earn points for posting your favorite back to school deals and you can redeem those points for Amazon gift cards or cash through PayPal. In the process, you're helping others save money on their back to school shopping but ultimately doing yours for free or nearly free with your earnings through Dealspotr. - Angie Bailey of Precisely Mine

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This guide was published on August 30, 2016, and last modified on August 30, 2016.

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