Seven Ways to Save on Back-to-School Shopping

Seven Ways to Save on Back-to-School Shopping

Kelly Kehoe is a staff writer for Money Street Smart and works with, a site full coupons and coupon codes. 

The back-to-school season is in full swing, but many
families and college students have yet to finish shopping for school supplies. If
you’re looking for some last-minute savings before the first day of school,
then check out the following ways to cut down the cost of everything from electronics
to books and pencils.


1. Take Advantage of
Student Discounts

First and foremost, be on the look out for student
discounts. Student Universe has a great list of online retailers that offer student discounts, such as Microsoft, Amazon, Walmart, and more.
Some discounts require a student ID card or student email address, so be
prepared before you make you purchase.

2. Compare Prices

Even with student discounts, there may be cheaper prices to
be had elsewhere. One option is to ask a major retailer whether they match
their competitors’ prices. Another option is to use apps such as RedLaser or ShopSavvy
to see where you can get the best prices on school supplies.

3. Split the Costs

If you prefer shopping at warehouse stores such as Costco, consider
forming a group with other parents and splitting the costs of school supplies. If
your kids are in the same grade level or class, you could also split the cost
of books (or rent the books instead; see #6 below for more details).

4. Collect Coupons

Why pay full price when there are thousands of coupons and online coupon codes out there? Coupons
for school supplies are particularly plentiful during August and September. For
even bigger savings, mimic the extreme couponers by combining several manufacturer
and store coupons with in-store sales. For online shopping, scout around for free
shipping promotions and discount codes for your school supplies.

5. Buy Used (or Older

There’s nothing wrong with hand-me-downs in decent
condition. Whether it’s a backpack, desk chair, books, electronics, etc., buying
used will save you big bucks this back-to-school season.

This is especially true where electronics are concerned. Despite
the risk of occasional scams, Craiglist ads are at least worth looking into, as
well as Ebay and Amazon sellers. Buying refurbished electronics is cheap but a
little risky; it’s probably better to find reputable sellers with older models
that are still in excellent working condition. To illustrate with a personal
example, I saved over $400 by buying a year-old, barely-used MacBook Pro on
Ebay, rather than buying a brand-new laptop at an Apple store. The only
downside to buying used is that the warranty for your item may have expired.

6. Rent Books

Budget cuts in K-12 schools have forced teachers to ask
students to bring their own books for reading assignments (usually in exchange
for extra credit points). Before going on Amazon or to your local bookstore to
purchase a book, call your child’s school to see whether their library has
available copies. If not, check your local library as well.

For college students, renting textbooks has become
incredibly popular over the past couple of years. For the duration of the
contract (usually a quarter or semester long), you can rent textbooks at a
fraction of the price of buying the textbook (new or used doesn’t matter;
renting is almost always cheaper). As an added bonus, you won’t have to deal
with pesky textbook buyback programs, which pay mere pennies on the dollar for
your old textbook.

7. Go Electronic

Another alternative to buying new books is purchasing or
renting them electronically. Websites like Amazon and Chegg sell and rent e-textbooks at a fraction
of what you’d pay for a physical copy of the book. Some books you might even
find on Google Books for free, so be
sure to check out these sites before buying all your books.