Back-to-School Survival Guide

5 Ways to Save on School Supplies

Get smart even before school starts with these great shopping tips.

Broken Crayola crayonsAntonis Achilleos
  • Take advantage of tax-free weekends. Ten states offer this shopping perk: During one weekend in August, back-to-school items, like backpacks and footwear, are tax-free. (For a list of participating locales, go to
  • Wait for discounts. Big markdowns on clothing, electronics, and shoes typically occur in mid-August. The reward for your patience? Savings of 40 to 50 percent in stores and 20 to 25 percent with online retailers.
  • Buy a backpack with a warranty. Book bags take a beating, so buy your child’s backpack from a reputable company, such as L.L. Bean, REI, or the North Face, that guarantees its merchandise. If a zipper breaks, the company will replace the backpack at no charge or it may give you your money back.
  • Ask for a student discount on software. Flash a valid K–12 or college ID at tech stores or send a copy via e-mail or fax to sites like or and you could get up to 80 percent off your purchase.
  • Buy school supplies at warehouse or big-box retailers. The prices will be much lower than at supermarkets and drugstores.


Read More About:Saving

Related Content

Illustration of man and woman talking

3 Ways to Cut Your IRS Debt

If you're having trouble paying your taxes or want to fight late fees, these tips can help you negotiate with the IRS.

What do you think about this article? Share your own solutions and ideas

View Earlier Comments

Quick Tip

Illustration of suitcases

Packing for a family vacation? Travel versions of favorite games won’t crowd suitcases, and playing them will keep kids from begging to watch TV at night. Get more tips.