Last week I posted an image on my Instagram stories showing a table that I created for my kids back to school shopping. So many messages came through about it, that I decided to write a post and share my hack on how to save BIG on back to school shopping.
What is this Table?
I posted a picture with the table below and a simple question asking if other parents prep for back to school like this. The overwhelming response was NO. Like not even one parent said yes, but about 20 messaged me about it. I use this table for school supply shopping. Back to school is expensive and I am a teacher on a budget, so getting the best deals is imperative.
The table is really simple and includes columns for the school supply, the store and the amount. I actually adjusted it to include the quantity as well in a separate column. You can access a copy of the google spreadsheet here. I was able to get my kids backpacks, all their supplies and some teacher extras for $90.51. In fact some of the prices I had listed were even cheaper in store!
The Process to BIG Savings
I have done this for the last 4 years and I typically can save between $50-$100 on school supplies alone. It takes less than an hour (which I know is still time) but it will save you cash and honestly, you wouldn’t have clicked on this post if you were not looking to save money.
How to Save BIG on back to school shopping
- Open the google doc and make a copy.
- Get your child’s school supply list and fill in the name and quantity columns. If you have more than one child, copy the header rows and paste them next to each other like I did above.
- On your web browser, open up tabs for the stores local to you that sell school supplies. For us it is Walmart, Target and Office Depot.
- Use the search function on the stores webpage, type in one school supply. Put the same in each of the stores you are searching.
- Sort by price (low to high)
- Record the store and the price that is the lowest in your table.
- Repeat for the next supply.
- Head out to shop before those prices change (usually within the week).
More Tips to Saving!
- Timing matters: Shopping for school supplies in the last two weeks of July gives you a better selection and chance of finding the best deals and prices.
- Supply Rotation: Each store rotates what they are selling at the deep discount (Like crayola crayons for $0.25) and typically none of them will have the exact same products on sale at the exact same time. If you have time, you can check prices weekly from mid-July through mid-August and check things off your list as you purchase.
- Backpacks: Backpacks can be expensive, I highly recommend purchasing those on national backpack day as many retailers offer some deep discounts! We snagged 2 Lands End backpacks for 53% off.
- Look for coupons: Often, the coupon circulars and online coupon retailers will have school supply coupons. Target is also awesome at giving teachers a certain percentage off their order and sometimes has a special coupon for non-teachers to save!
- Price Match: If you have the ads (typically not online), you can sometimes get the stores to price match. This is hit or miss, but always worth a try.
Back to School Clothes Shopping Savings
School supplies is where I tend to save the most money on back to school shopping, however, when we go back to school clothing shopping, I do pretty well too. I can usually get our school supplies and back to school clothes done for under $300 and that includes name brand shoes, clothing and backpacks.
The trick here is to shop between seasons. I ALWAYS shop right before or as the stores are starting to clearance out the spring/summer lines and bring in the back to school clothes. I also shop a lot at Kohls, the Children’s Place and at the outlet stores and I get email updates on their sales so I know when to purchase and sometimes purchasing online saves more money then going in store.