Kids/Family/Life, Parenting & Family

Back to School Shopping Tips

Back to School Shopping Tips

Do you need some Back to School Shopping Tips? It’s that time of year! I can’t believe how fast summer went. I mean, it feels like summer had just started! A few days ago, I was going to write up a post with my back to school shopping plans. However, things got a little busy. Since our kids go back to school this Thursday, I had to finish up some shopping. And since school is about to start, we had an orientation this past Friday, had another earlier this evening, and we have open house tomorrow. Three kids, same district, but three different schools. Whew.

Anyway, the following Back to School Shopping Tips below are how we plan our back to school shopping. With three kids it can sometimes get a little rough. Not only does our shopping list include the school supplies, there is also shoes and back to school clothes. In addition to that, we may need to buy backpacks or lunchboxes. But getting those school supplies are so important. I am sure you might have even seen some pretty silly ones. Read why it is so important to buy them in my previous Why buy all school supplies post.

Split Shopping into Categories

I like to split our back to school shopping into categories. Firstly, there are the school supplies. School supplies always comes first before anything else. That also includes backpacks and lunchboxes if they are needed. Secondly, we have school shoes. New shoes are always a must. By the time school starts again, my kids have outgrown their current shoes. And besides, it’s a new school year. One of the things we loved about starting a new year when we were kids ourselves was new shoes and clothes. Lastly, we have school clothes. The major school clothes shopping gets put on hold for a few weeks. I’ll get to more of that in a bit.

Back to School Shopping Tips

School Supplies

Since we have three kids, we have three different lists. Well, that’s kind of a lie. Since our oldest is in high school (she’s a Senior this year!), she doesn’t really have a list. We get a few notebooks, some folders, a pack of pens, and a pack of pencils. If there is anything else that is needed by a specific teacher (rarely happens), then she/he will let their students know. For example, last year she needed a couple spiral graph paper notebooks.

So that we didn’t have to spend so much on school supplies at one time, we took care of one list at a time. One week we did one list, and the following week we did the other list. We added our daughter’s stuff to the shortest of the two lists we had. I know not everyone may be able to do this because you may not get school supply lists early enough. We are lucky that our school district sends them out with new teacher information almost a month before the new school year starts. I have always been very appreciative of that.

Buy some supplies in bulk

First of all, if you buy supplies in bulk, you will have extras for at home. Or for later in the year when certain ones may need to be replaced. For example, my older son needed two blue or two black pens. Instead of spending $4.00 on a two pack of fancy pens, I just bought a bulk package of 15 Bic pens for $1.29. That way he could take more than two in his pencil pouch he needed. They all needed at least 24 pencils. I bought two packs of 48 and split them. Again, it was cheaper that way.

Two of my kids needed 2 highlighters. It was cheaper for me to buy the 4 pack (it even came with a bonus highlighter) than it was to buy (2) two packs. It was the same way with the glue sticks. Other than those couple items, I was able to do one list at a time with the rest of the stuff. I saved money immediately on a few items and also by buying certain things in bulk, I saved in the long run as well.

Buy extra supplies

I know, I mentioned saving money above but buying extra supplies means you are going to spend a little more. I only suggest buying extra supplies because now is the best time to do it. We grabbed some extra folders for 10 cents and extra notebooks for 15 cents. Crayons, markers, and colored pencils are also cheaper when they have the back to school stuff going on too. I ended up getting 48 count crayons, 8 count markers, and 24 count colored pencils (all Crayola because that is what the teachers want) for less than $2.00 each. Of course I also have a lot of extra pencils and pens since I bought them in bigger packages.

Avoid pre-sharpened pencils

Pre-sharpened pencils are nice. They really are. Your kids don’t have to worry about sharpening a bunch of pencils the first day of school and it just makes it more convenient. But I personally suggest avoiding them unless it is specified on your child’s supply list. The reason why is because they are more expensive. By a dollar or two. And there are less of them in a package. I have an electric pencil sharpener at home anyway. I sharpen about 10 pencils for each of them before they head off to school.

Pencil Recommendation

When I made my pre-sharpened pencils vs. non sharpened pencils comparison, I was only thinking about one brand. That brand is USA Gold. I didn’t mean to make that comparison in general because when it comes to pencils, I won’t go with the cheapest I can find. I am very picky about pencils and the quality of them. Ticonderoga is my favorite but they are pretty pricey. The next best thing is the USA Gold brand. Very good pencils. I promise, this is not an endorsement or sponsorship in any way. I just highly recommend the brand! My daughter wanted some random pencils with cool designs and I was like….”Noooope!”

Back to School Clothes

First and foremost are shoes. We typically set a limit on shoes. No more than $40. Fifty at most depending on the situation. We used to go the no name brand route but got tired of replacing shoes every 2 or 3 months. I just wish my boys could still fit their old shoes because they are still in pretty good shape for being worn for a year. But what can you do? I can’t stop them from growing either. Placing books on their head doesn’t seem to work. After we get their shoes, then we start looking at clothes.

I take inventory

As mentioned earlier, we wait to do any major clothing shopping. At least a few weeks after school starts. We first make sure we have all their supplies and the shoes they pick out. The reason I don’t like to do major clothes shopping is because they are still wearing shorts and summer clothes through the middle of September most of the time. And two, it allows our wallet to have a little breather. It’s easier on us to wait a few weeks to buy new clothes.

However, I do take inventory of what they do have. I have them try on jeans, shirts, etc. That way when we do go back to school clothes shopping, we know what they need most of. Our younger son can still wear all his jeans that he has. And they are all still in really good shape. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to get him more jeans when he still has 7 or 8 pair of them. He does need shirts though. I figured out that our older son has the opposite problem. Our daughter has tons of clothes, just not enough short sleeved Tees she likes to wear.

Now that I have taken inventory, I can make a list for when we go. That way we aren’t buying anything they really don’t need.

Something New

We always get them new socks and a couple pieces of new clothing before school starts though. They each got a couple new shirts and my older son got a couple new pair of jeans. But for the rest, they will wait a few weeks.

Last Minute Back to School Shopping Tips

A couple last minute Back to School Shopping Tips have to do with backpacks and lunchboxes. When my kids were younger, we used to buy a new backpack each year. It used to be one of their favorite things about back to school shopping. Each year it was a new backpack usually featuring some kind of character they were into at the time. Every year they got a new one either because they had outgrown that particular character or the backpack just didn’t last. I didn’t have much of a problem with this but I was glad when they got older.

Even my youngest (he’s 10) is just fine with using a backpack more than one year in a row. A few years ago we spent more than we usually do on a backpack for our oldest. She’s had the same one for a few years and is still in great shape. Our middle son has been using the same one for two years. Our youngest is happy to use his brother’s old Minecraft backpack that he grew out of. So one of my tips is that if your kids will let you get away with it, purchase a good backpack that will last more than one year. That way you aren’t paying an extra $20-$30 on top of everything else every year.

The same goes for lunchboxes. I checked all their lunch boxes and noticed that the thermal liner in my youngest’s had a tear in it so I only had to get one this year!


So, this is how we back to school shop! Hopefully you may find some of these Back to School Shopping Tips helpful. If you would like a laugh (that is if you think I am sometimes funny), check out my What to expect when you go back to school shopping post!

Back to School Shopping Tips
Back to School Shopping Tips
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About Nicole Anderson

My name is Nicole and I write DustinNikki Mommy of Three. I enjoy writing product reviews and hosting giveaways. I have been married to my high school sweetheart for 20 years and we have three kids. When I am not terribly busy running someone to band or soccer practices, I find some time to write. I also like to write about my kids, family and life. My family enjoys the outdoors - hiking, canoeing, and exploring things we haven't seen or been before. Thanks for stopping by and checking out my blog!
View all posts by Nicole Anderson →

21 thoughts on “Back to School Shopping Tips

  1. I find your tips very helpful specially when someone is keen to budget and quality. Advance shopping is a strong option as well.

  2. Though I buy pretty much any time of the year because we are homeschooling, I agree with the buying in bulk part. Saves me time with going back and forth to the store and we usually get it cheaper in bulk.

  3. You gave some great and useful tips for shopping for back to school. Buying school supplies can be a chore. Buying in bulk is an excellent tip. I have noticed that back to school deals are showing up in a lot of places.

  4. I love this topic, always gives me a little bit of sense what I need to do and be prepared before doing our back to school shopping. Thanks!

  5. There are some great tips on here. We are lucky in the UK because most of the school supplies are supplied by the education system, but there is a real shortage of funds to pay for them. We have a Poundland and thats where I get my daughters bits.

  6. I remember not having some of my school supply lists until the first day or week of school. At least now you get them somewhat early so you can do your shopping over a couple of weeks or days and not feel rushed to get everything.

  7. You get your lists a month in advance!?! My oldest got his 3 days before school (all while I was out of town for work), so I had to scramble the night before to get what I could. I buy in bulk as well so I can have extras at home and can send during the year as needed. I actually got some supplies from the grocery store, of all places, because I happened to wander into their school section and they had stuff marked down for killer deals. Most had a limit of 4, and believe me, I bought all 4!

    1. Yes! We used to get lists a couple days before school started but a few years ago they finally started sending them early. Thank goodness because having to wait to get those supplies so close to school starting is super annoying! Sometimes those killer deals show up in the most unexpected places! I like to grab them up when I see those deals too!

  8. It really does feel like summer just started. How is it time for school to start already?! Glad to see you’re so well prepared when it comes to back to school shopping! These are great tips.

    1. Thank you! I try to be, it does help a lot that we get our supply lists fairly early though. I am excited they are going back to school but at the same time I don’t want summer break to be over!

  9. These are some really great tips! I’m not a mom, but I’m a teacher, so I know how much important it is. Didn’t know that pre-sharpened pencils are that more expensive. 🙂

    1. I’m starting to think that maybe it depends on location. I do know those pre-sharpened ones are more expensive where I am. Or at least the quantity in the package is much less than the non sharpened ones. I usually get packs of 48 and usually the pre-sharpened ones come in packs half that size. There are only two brands of pencils I will buy though and usually it’s USA Gold!

  10. When I in school – MAN OH MAN I LOVEDDDDDDDDD back to school shopping! There is something about getting a new planner that always gets me SOOOO excited!

    1. Yes! I think that was my favorite part. Finding that perfect planner! I still use planners all the time. My daughter is the same way too. She was more excited about the planner she found the other day than the few pieces of clothing she picked out.

  11. These are great tips! We’re nearly done shopping. I did get the pre sharpened pencils because the ones that aren’t are usually too cheap. I’m all about saving, but not for pencils!

    1. Oh, I am the same way about pencils! I’m glad you found the pre-sharpened ones cheaper! I can never find them cheaper. I only buy USA Gold yellow pencils though so when I made the comparison between the pre-sharpened and non sharpened, I was just thinking about that brand. I should probably re-word that huh? I love Ticonderoga too but usually stick with USA Gold. My daughter wanted these other pencils that had designs and stuff on them and I was like… Noooope!

  12. All great tips! I don’t have kids in my house but will totally share this with my friends who have kids. Hard to believe kids are already going back to school, where does the time go?

    1. Same here! We can never have too many pencils in our house. The kids go through them like crazy. That and pens. I usually have a bunch of pens that I keep put up because my older two tend to lose them quite often.

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