How to shop for back to school on a budget

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According to a recent study from Huntington Bank, parents should expect to pay 5% more for supplies and extracurricular activities for their K-12 kids, compared to last year. Moms already squeezed by lengthening supply lists may find it hard to make all of the necessary purchases prior to the first day of class. Kendal Perez, Savings Expert with, is here to offer her tips for shopping for back-to-school on a budget.


Take advantage of loss leaders.

Basic supplies are available for less than $1 in some cases from Staples, Walmart and Office Depot, so take advantage of these deals and load up. These supplies from Staples, for example, offer great deals: 35 cents for a dozen pencils, 50 cents for composition notebooks, 75 cents for loose-leaf paper. These products are considered “loss leaders,” or sold at a loss, to attract customers, so stock up on these cheap supplies and cost compare the rest.


Cost-compare big-ticket purchases and request a price match.

Laptops, backpacks, graphing calculators – these big-ticket items can cost big bucks, so make sure to cost-compare between retailers for the best deal. Most big names like Target, Walmart and BestBuy will price match one another and Amazon on identical products. Staples is offering a 110% lowest-price guarantee, meaning they’ll match prices on identical products of their competitors and give you an additional 10% off.


Shop used for gadgets, apparel. Kids grow so quickly that there’s no need to pay full price for the latest fashions. Instead, shop consignment and thrift stores or head online to sites like, which offers up to 90% off kids’ apparel. Same goes with gadgets — stores like Apple, Best Buy and Dell Refurbished offer refurbished and open-box gadgets with savings equaling hundreds of dollars in some cases.


Seek out extra deals. According a recent study conducted by Mintel, a consumer insights company, 90% of back-to-school shoppers will use coupons. This is great news because there are so many extra savings to be had! Download the Coupon Sherpa app for instant access to Kohl’s coupons including $10 off kids’ apparel and shoe purchases, and Staples coupons for specific savings, like 40% off regular-priced dividers.

Use gift cards as currency. You can buy gift cards for less than face value to provide automatic savings of up to 20% in some cases. For example, you can currently purchase a gift card to Walgreens for 11% off; a gift card to JCPenney for 20% off; or a gift card to American Eagle for over 25% off. Use these cards together with coupons and you’ll save big money!

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