Are you on a tight budget but need to stock up for the new school year? Here’s how to buy school supplies for cheap for your kids while sticking to your budget!

It’s that time of year again: back to school season! Yep, we may be enjoying summer but it’s also time to start getting the kids ready for back to school. And if you want to save money on school supplies it’s better to start early. 

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Back to school season can be just as much fun for moms as it is for the little ones. And it’s even more enjoyable if you can get the most bang for your buck on back to school shopping. Nobody wants to hand over a load of cash for overly priced products, so check out our back to school shopping tips to save some money and buy school supplies for cheap!

Here’s how to buy back to school supplies on a budget.


5 tips for buying school supplies for cheap and stick to your budget


5 Tips for How to Buy School Supplies for Cheap and Stick to Your Budget


Make a Plan

There is zero chance you will save money if you shop on impulse flying by the seat of your pants! Make a list as early as possible of everything your kids will need the next school year. Here are some printable shopping list templates to help you.

Write down everything from markers to underwear and set a realistic budget either for each item or for your whole list. Then start looking around for the best prices. 

By pre-planning you can be sure you are getting the best prices for each product and you can cut down on the number of shopping trips or stores you stop at. (That saves gas money!)

Be sure when you do finally go out back to school shopping you stick to your list and your budget. Save impulse buys for when your list is done and you still have money left in your budget. 

Don’t forget to take you child into account when making this plan. Getting your kids involved in back to school shopping is a great way to help them transition from summer to back to school. 


boy and family back to school shopping for backpacks


Sign Up for Store Emails

Get on the mailing list of all the stores you might buy school supplies from. By getting all their deals and discounts sent straight to your inbox you can see what’s on sale each week. Many will even throw in a coupon with their weekly email too.

If you don’t want these emails cluttering up your inbox, create a separate account just for commercial emails. Then you can look through once or twice a week to see what to stock up on for the best price.

Some stores to sign up for:

  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Staples
  • Office Depot
  • Dollar Tree
  • Dollar General
  • Amazon
  • Kohl’s
  • Old Navy

There are also website browser extensions that can alert you to special deals on websites and products. 


Shop at Second Hand

Don’t overlook shopping in second hand stores for back to school supplies. A quick wash will turn many second-hand clothing items into near-new. Kids grow so fast that many clothes are hardly worn.

Get the most value for your dollar by looking out for tag sales. Stores like Goodwill and the Salvation Army often run tag sales if they have a lot of stock to clear. All items with pink tags, say, are priced 50% off, or items with red tags are priced under $3.50.

These items can include jeans and brand name shirts, among other things. Sometimes, you can score an entire second-hand wardrobe for under $25! But of course, you have to be a savvy shopper so search carefully. Goodwill was my favorite place to shop when I was a teenager and I got some of my most unique and cool looking clothes there!

You can also often find barely used or like-new school supplies at second hand stores or garage sales.  Some moms clear out everything at the end of the school year to start afresh. If you’re happy to sift through, you’ll find enough supplies for your kid for pennies. Look and see if your local homeschool group has a yearly yard sale since there’s often school supplies and other educational materials available there. 

Here are just a few places to buy school clothes for cheap:

  • Garage sales
  • Consignment stores
  • Large Consignment sales
  • Goodwill
  • Salvation Army
  • Thrift stores- both online and brick and mortar


rack of second hand children's clothing


Stockpile Coupons

If you have more than one kid to buy school supplies for, it makes sense to consider stockpiling coupons for school supplies as soon as you can. A little trick that many savvy coupon moms like to use is stockpiling coupons for the essentials by purchasing the newspaper, printing online and requesting that coupons be directly mailed to their mailbox.

By the end of the summer, the coupon moms that stockpile coupons often find reduced deals because the items have been on the shelf for most of the summer making them super cheap. Some dollar stores will even accept coupons on merchandise, so check the policy of your local store.


Shop Early- VERY Early

Being a savvy mom, you already avoid shopping in the last few weeks before the school year begins. But do you know the best time to buy school supplies? The year before. 

If you purchase items, such as binders, pens and pencils, and even clothing just a few weeks after school has begun, just about everything in the store will be marked down considerably. You can get spiral notebooks and loose paper for just cents!

To further your savings, sign up for email newsletters of all of your favorite stores. Stores like JCPenney send out quarterly coupons for 10% to 15% off of all of their merchandise, including their sales items. It isn’t uncommon to find children’s shorts and t-shirts on sale for less than $5. So, the savings can be considerable.


There are so many ways to save on back to school shopping for your family. You can stockpile coupons, shop for free (with coupons) at the dollar store, and even go shopping a year early in order to get your shopping out of the way completely. If you’re willing to invest your time, and keep an eager eye, you’ll be able to score amazing deals and buy all of your essential school supplies for cheap and stay within (or under) budget!


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