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40 Money-Saving Tips for Back-to-school Budgeting

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Back to School season is almost here. Get ready for school with these 40-money-saving back-to-school budgeting tips you can use for school supplies, clothing, and craft supplies.

It’s one of the busiest and most expensive times of the year! Some families find it challenging to save money to pay their children’s school fees whilst balancing the household budget. But it does not have to be that way.

This article includes everything you need for the school year with the least amount of stress!

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I have also included a handy back-to-school shopping checklist printable to make this season extra fun!

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Follow this list to ensure that you don’t forget anything before the new school year starts. Keep this list in your household binder or school binder for ready reference throughout the school year.

40 Back-to-School Budgeting Tips to Save Money

  1. Create a back-to-school shopping inventory list. If you want help, you can download this one.
  2. Create a handy wish list- Create and prioritize your list of back-to-school shopping needs. Always remember to focus on what absolutely need for your school year and your children’s next stage of growth. Everything else just occupies the dust and wastes money.

  3. Shop your home and office for what you already have but stored away. Sometimes, we forget that we have pens, pencils, and other school supplies bought last year. Dig them out and put them in the inventory sheet.
  4. Take your budget out and see how much room you have in there for school supplies. If you have not created a budget yet, use this simple budget worksheet.

502030budget worksheet

5. Set aside a budget- for both school supplies and home-school projects.

6. Take your inventory list and wish list out, and start noting the priorities for you and your office, school, and children for each month.

7. Start writing the prices for the things you absolutely need and may want. List down the price per unit and the bundle price. You always get a better deal by buying in bulk. But you must have the need to use up what you buy in bulk. If you have a smaller family, do not fret, I have got a special tip for you below.

8. Sign up for the store email to get their coupons. This is optional. I recommend creating a separate email for getting promotional emails. Or you can use your regular email and create a promotions folder to receive special deals in that folder. Keep these emails and the special discounts in them along with due dates handy. List them down on the printable I have provided.

9. Also, sign up for thrift store emails. They have special days when they offer deeper discounts on already discounted products. I personally have bought office organization, electronics, and a good shredder for under $5. Goodwill also has good-quality school supplies. If you are on a tight budget, head over there before anywhere else for your home-school or stationery needs.

10. Start collecting coupons either from or from your newspapers ( if you subscribe to them). Do not waste time cutting coupons yet. You may not need to cut them as most paper coupons by manufacturers are also available in digital format. You can load these coupons on the store loyalty cards.

11. Most popular brands like Bic, Kleenex, and Post-it usually publish coupons during July and August. Some stores let you combine manufacturers and their own store coupons. This saves a good amount of money.

12. Don’t forget the magazines where you get coupons. I love Stop and Shop’s store magazine; they have great recipes, meal planning tips, and special coupons as well. If you are a loyal member of Stop and Shop, this magazine is available for FREE. Just ask the store employee to include it in your shopping bill.

13. If you are homeschooling, you may not have to worry about new school clothing. So, take your time and shop after the end of the back-to-school sale. If you are not homeschooling, look for what you have already got rather than going out and shopping for every new clothing item.

14. If you must shop for new clothing, check out the clearance section in Target on Mondays. They mark down kids’ clothing on Monday. I often find high-quality cotton organic clothing in the clearance section on Monday night. In general, if you are a Target hopper, use their store app to maximize more savings. f you are out and about for shopping on Monday, look for Old Navy’s deals on Sunday night or Monday Morning. They usually mark down school clothing for children on these two days.

15. Shop for clothes and supplies at the same time.

Costco, Target, and Walmart are some of the stores where you can get everything your child needs for the school year. This saves time, money, and decision fatigue!

16. Shop sensibly and timely.

August is a great time for school supplies as you will see great sales but you can snag good deals on Amazon on lightening deals in Costco during the fall season and even in winter.

17. Compare prices between the stores-

In the last couple of years, online stores have been making their prices as clear and transparent as possible. This is because people are becoming more and more price-conscious. And it is a good thing. And hence it is the topic of this blog- being conscious and being debt-free!

Most stores offer a price match guarantee. Use this guarantee to save more on essential school supplies.

18. Price match to save at stores

If you can’t find a coupon for the store where you are planning to shop, see if they can do price matching for you.

That way you do not have to make a special trip to the store that has a sale. Many stores do price matching. I know of Staples, Target, Joann, and Office Depot. Always check their policies first or ask their store employee.

19. Reuse supplies-

Learn to make notebooks as a craft project with your kids. You can get bulk papers from Costco or even thrift stores.

Some of the DIY notebooks from my childhood are still on display in my mom’s home. The same goes for files, folders, and binders.

Good quality files and folders can last you a long time. We have been using some binders for the last 10 years. They are from Costco.

20. Shop at the dollar store for simple school supplies.

They have an excellent collection of poster boards, planners, books, and coloring items. My favorite is organization bins for school supplies and books.

I have also got excellent quality 3 subject notebooks from Dollar Tree. Wall Calendars, notepads and party supplies are also excellent there.

21. If you are overwhelmed and need help to put together everything you need for your child, look for bulk back-to-school boxes.

They include essentials you will need for start of the school. It includes 30+ essential items so you will not miss out on anything and also save money on gas going to 10 different stores. It saves time and energy. It is also a great gift for the first day at school for teachers.

22. Speaking of shopping at different stores, make a wish list and add the coupons where you get the best potential deal.

Then hand over this wish list with the coupons to your family members. Let everyone pull the weight on back-to-school preparedness. Everyone can work with a dedicated budget and get organized in a brief span of time.

23. Buy second-hand school supplies and school furnishings.

Amazon has an entire section of renewed or refurbished items.

Years ago, I found a gigantic bag of lined paper from a teacher who quit her day job to teach part-time at the local library. She sold me 30 rims of excellent quality lined paper from Staples for $4.

I’m still using these sheets while I study for my wellness degree.

24. Shop basic supplies.

They work so much better than cute or different shapes of erasers.  e.g. stick to the basic pencils, basic notebooks, and basic erasers. You do not need a fancy graphics calculator. A simple $1 calculator is easily available at Dollar Tree.

25. Shop during tax-free weekends.

Find out if your state qualifies for a tax-free weekend. If you do not live in a tax-free state like our current president, you are not working with the system here.

We all have something to learn from them. They know how to work with the system and invest in million-dollar houses. For now, you can find the nearest state where you can also enjoy a day or two of vacation.

26. If you have relatives or friends living in tax-free states like Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Alaska, ask them if they can help you shop for back-to-school supplies.

27. Shop with cash-back sites and stores that give you special rewards. Use Honey and Retail me not to find the coupon before you shop. don’t forget that online learning websites like Udemy almost always have discounts on their most popular course but during August, check them out before spending money on high-value courses anywhere else.

28.You can also buy the discounted gift cards Card bear and use them to shop at Old Navy, Staples, Target, Walmart, JC Penny, Michaels, Office Depot, and Walgreens

29. Do you collect your coins? Use them to get gift cards at the grocery store. And shop with those gift cards for school and office supplies.

30. Dollar Tree also allows using coupons. Sometimes you can snap pens, and pencils from Bic completely free. These savings add up fast. While at Dollar Tree, check out their party supplies, Greeting cards, and of course the organizing bins!

31. Shop early on Sunday morning when the stores stock up on back-to-school supplies. That way you get the best products and get time to shop peacefully.

32. Check out TJ max for home decor and school supplies. Their yellow price tags show final markdowns.

33. If you do not mind sharing your phone number with the retails stores, they will send you special coupons on the phone in text message. Shops like Macy’s, Kohl’s, Gap and H&M are some stores that send special coupons via text.

34. If you are a Bed Bath and Beyond loyalist, look for their coupons too. I do not really shop there anymore. So I give away all the coupons I get in the mail.

35. Don’t forget the craft stores like Michaels and Joann. They usually have 40% off coupons but during July, August they have a clearance section too.

36. Swap your great school supply finds with your best friend or another home-school family. Sometimes, to qualify for the bigger discount, make a minimum purchase. But what if you need nothing to add to your order? Check with the other homeschooling family or your friends who have children in the public or private school. They will often take up the supplies from you. We’ve done this to snag good deals at Staples a few years ago. 3 Families joined together, and we shared notebooks, index cards,m coloring pens, pencils in our joint shopping haul. It was fun for us and for the kids.

37. Speaking of swapping, if you need any school supplies that are costly or equipment that you think you will not need more than a few times a year, check with your friends or other home-schooling families. If you ask, they would be happy to lend this equipment or supplies to you. If lending is not an option, bartering or swapping always works.

38. You do not need to shop for all school supplies or office supplies during July and August. Just like school clothing, stores always run great discounts throughout the year. e.g. for craft supplies and projects, check out Michaels and Costco just before Halloween.

39. Always check if the office or school supplies qualify for the tax credits. Many times, they do. Always save your shopping receipts or add your final purchase amounts in the handy wish-list tracker I made for you. This way you will not forget to add it to your annual tax preparations.

40. Always save the recipes just in case you need to return the poor quality or unused supplies. I know I will return the huge bundle of these pens to Costco because these pens just do not work well. Halfway through the use, the ink dried up completely.

Shop smart- select only key stores for all your shopping needs. Shopping online is the easiest way to get your kids their back-to-school supplies. Get everything from school supplies, dress codes, and regular clothing too with just a click!

With these 40 money-saving tips, it will be so much easier to save money this year for you and your family.


Free Shopping lists for back to school

Supplies for a Frugal Homemaker

Homeschool Mama Teacher Journal-

This simple, minimalist undated-lined journal will help you write your homeschooling thoughts, prayers, challenges, and even milestones you want your children to achieve. Include motivational posters and lots of space for creative journaling and morning pages. Journal is for Personal use only. The instant download comes in PDF format.

Get Journal here

Homeschool Printables for Kids

Homeschool printables

Get the Homeschool Printables here

Huge collection of Homeschool Printables for Pre-K+. Digital-PDF format. Instant download. Pay one and print as many times as you need. This bundle includes Printables for A to Z practice, 1-100 numbers, Address Practice, Tell the time, Identify the color, the weather, the animals, and A to Z flash cards.

Calendar and Basic Planner – There is something about making lists and checking off items that keep us all feeling accomplished. But nothing beats a regular calendar and a basic planner.

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Shopping Lists and Organizer- 

Back to school shopping lists– Get these FREE Checklists and Shopping lists for upcoming back-to-school shopping.

FREE checklists

Download for FREE

Monthly Meal Plans and Grocery List Organizer-

Meal planning printables

When you have daily meals prepped and planned for a week or even a month, it is much easier to manage other household needs. Check out this Monthly Meal planner. You can print it out on a color printer or in grayscale.

Monthly Undated Calendar for Home-Management Binder- Use these undated calendars to plan your school events, parties, online zoom courses, teacher-parents meets, and meal plans.

Self-Care worksheets and self-care monthly planner.

As busy homemakers, looking after others is often our first priority. But it is a quick road to fatigue, anger, and worries.

Self-Care Planner

This simple Self-Care Planner helps you make yourself a priority and fine-tune 8 areas of your life where you are most likely stressed. 67 pages of worksheets, assessments, and habit trackers!

Click here to get the Self-Care planner bundle

Final thoughts on back-to-school budgeting

Getting back-to-school things can be expensive if you do not plan well in advance. It can be tough to keep everything for kids in the house, from clothes to stationery to electronics and new backpacks. Reduce the overwhelm by using the FREE back-to-school checklists and plan well. Use up what you have and get what you absolutely need. Rock your school year with these 40 money-saving tips during the back-to-school season.

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Back to School Budgeting Printables FREE

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