As I mentioned in our recent “How to save money on back to school shopping” post, school supplies can be pretty pricey.
In fact, a survey on back to school spending from the National Retail Federation found that families spend an average of $673.57 on school supplies.
That puts quite a dent in the old bank balance.
So, what can you do?
While there are certain things that you’ll have to buy for the school year, like a backpack or pens, you don’t have to spend a fortune on stuff for school.
You just need to know where to buy cheap school supplies.
Fortunately, there are many stores, retailers, and merchants, both online and offline, where you can get many school supplies like notebooks, pens, pencils, folders, backpacks and lunchboxes at a much cheaper cost.
– Cheap school supplies near you (offline)
While the Internet is often lauded for its low prices, there are still some great bargains to be found offline.
Here are a few traditional retailers that offer low prices:
For school supplies, you should definitely check out Michaels.
While it’s prices may not be the cheapest, the store does offer some very generous coupons – sometimes there are coupons for 40% off!
At Michaels, you can also use multiple coupons per transaction.
2. Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft
Another craft store that’s a good source for school supplies is Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft.
Like Michael’s, Jo-Ann lets you use multiple coupons per transaction.
This means that you can get products at a discounted rate, and save a little money on back to school shopping.
If you’re wondering where to buy cheap school supplies, then you should definitely take a visit to your local Walmart store.
When it comes to inexpensive school supplies, whether that’s notebooks, folders or pencils, we think that Walmart is one of the best places to shop.
Let’s take a quick look at an example.
A 60-count box of medium point, black ballpoint pens from Bic cost:
- $5.99 at Staples
- $4.97 at Walmart
And, you’ll find that this is the case for many other products at the store.
Of course, Walmart isn’t going to offer the best prices for every single item – that’s why we always suggest comparison shopping. But, for the most part, items at Walmart are usually better priced.
Also, the fact that the store significantly reduces the price of its stationery items and office supplies throughout the summer means that you can stock up before the school year begins.
And, the best part is, if you use coupons, then you’ll save even more.
Walmart has a pretty lenient coupon policy. We have an in-depth post on how to coupon at Walmart, so make sure that you check it out.
Combine that with the many simple ways you can save money at Walmart and you’ve got yourself a great source for cheap classroom stuff.
Walgreens is one of the best places to shop for school supplies, and not because it necessarily offers the lowest prices on everything. It certainly does offer school supplies at a good rate, but what makes it a great place to shop for school supplies on a budget is the fact that there are so many ways to save money at Walgreens.
Firstly, it offers a loyalty program, called the Balance Rewards Program.
With this program, you earn points each time that you shop, which you can later redeem for store credit.
But, that’s not all…
You also get access to a wide range of coupons, called Register Rewards that can save you a lot.
Walgreens also has a monthly savings booklet that features discounts too and a coupon app.
If you take advantage of all these savings opportunities, then you can save yourself so much money on back to school shopping.
While not everything is cheapest at Target, its prices are very reasonable.
For example, a pack of 12 Pentel EnerGel X Retractable Roller Gel Pens costs $18.09 at Office Depot, but just $11.49 at Target.
Plus, you can get some really cheap products there, like a twelve pack of pens for under $2, branded kid’s backpacks for as little as $5, and 99 cents sticky notes.
Staples might not always have the lowest prices for everything, but the fact that it will price match products sold by other retailers makes it one of the best places to buy cheap school supplies.
This means that if there’s a product from one store, like Walmart for example, which is a great deal, but it’s out of stock, you could visit a Staples store and get the same deal.
Staples will price match items sold by both online and offline retailers, including products sold by Amazon.
The only stipulation is that the price match is only available for identical items.
What’s great about Staples is that they don’t just match competitor’s prices, but they also discount it by 10% of the difference.
7. Best Buy
If you’re a college student or are soon to be, then you should definitely check out Best Buy.
Through its College Student Deals program, Best Buy provides college students with exclusive savings.
For example, at the time of writing, students can save $100 when they purchase an iPad, MacBook or iMac.
Best Buy runs deals like this all the time, and they often change, so make sure you check back to see what you can save.
8. Dollar Stores
For basic school supplies, the dollar stores like Dollar Tree and Family Dollar, and even online dollar stores can be a great place to shop.
Notebooks, planners, calculators and many other school essentials can be found at the dollar store, and you don’t have to pay a fortune for them!
9. Thrift Stores
Thrift stores are another good place to shop for things like back to school clothing, backpacks, and other supplies.
You can often find items that are gently used or that are in great co
10. Off Price/Overstock Stores
At off-price retailers and overstock stores, like TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Ross, you can find everything from notebooks, to backpacks, at a significantly discounted price.
The best part about shopping at these types of stores is that you usually find products from well-known, high-quality brands, but they’re much cheaper!
Clothing, shoes, accessories, binders and more can be found at stores like TJ Maxx. It’s always worth taking a look.
– Cheap school supplies online
Whether it’s a new laptop, a box of crayons, or a notebook, the Internet is a great place to find cheap school supplies.
Amazon, might not be the best place overall to find cheap school supplies, but, if you check out its clearance/daily deals section, then you can often find vastly discounted products, including school supplies, like backpacks and calculators.
You should also check out the Amazon Prime Student. It gives students free delivery on everything, for a low monthly cost.
Binders, notebooks, and many more school supplies can be found on eBay.
You can get some great deals on there.
You won’t always find exactly what you’re looking for on there, but if you’re looking for generic school supplies, and you aren’t picky about colors and things, then it’s a good place to shop.
13. US school supply
If you have a large family, then you should definitely consider shopping at US School Supply.
The website offers a lot of bulk buy deals – for example, you can get 100 two-pocket portfolios for just $38.75.
So, stock up on supplies for your kids, or you could go in with friends and split the cost.
For ridiculously cheap products, you should definitely check out Hollar.
On there, you can find all sorts of products for a low price, but what we recommend checking out at Hollar are the backpacks.
On Hollar, you can find branded backpacks, like Star Wars, Minnie Mouse and Hello Kitty backpacks for as little as $2!
For some school supplies, Craigslist can be a good place to shop.
On there, you can find everything from art supplies to musical instruments.
We recommend searching the for sale section of the site.
Try entering terms like “office supplies” or “school supplies”, or something more specific, like “art supplies” or “backpacks”.
If you or your child are in college or high school, then one of the biggest costs is going to be electronics, like a laptop.
If you’re on a tight budget, then it can be a good idea to purchase refurbished electronics. They are much cheaper!
But, be careful to only purchase from reputable sellers.
One of the best places to purchase refurbished laptops is at Newegg.
Another place that’s great for finding quality, refurbished laptops is at Dell.
You can find some reasonably priced items on there.
Check out what’s on offer here.
– Where not to shop
While the places above are great places to shop for cheap school stuff, there are two types of places to avoid.
1. Office supply stores
Aside from Staples, which offers a price match deal that makes it worthwhile, office supply stores are one of the worst places to buy school supplies.
Yes, they have a good selection of products, but they tend to be far more expensive.
For example, at Office Depot, an Avery Economy Round-Ring View Binder costs $5.19, while the same binder at Walmart costs just $3.39.
So, the price differs quite dramatically.
You’ll find this is the case with a lot of products at office supply stores.
2. Department Stores
Another place that you shouldn’t shop for school supplies on a budget is at department stores.
Don’t be tempted to stock up on back to school clothes, or shoes at the department stores. They tend to be pricier.
The bottom line
School supplies don’t need to cost you a fortune – you just need to know where to purchase them for the best price.
The above stores offer great prices, coupons, and discounts that can save you hundreds of dollars on school supplies.