Best time to buy discounted school supplies? Talk amongst yourselves.

Amazon: Dixon Ticonderoga 13872 Woodcase Pencil, HB #2, Yellow Barrel, 96 per PackKendra asks:

Every year, on the last day of school, my kids bring home a list of school supplies that will be required for the following year. And all summer, it sits and waits for that day when everything goes on sale for a dime and I can get crayons, folders, and backpacks at the lowest possible price (my kids are in elementary school, if that makes a difference). And I always seem to miss the best time. Either I wait too long or I go too early, but I always end up at the wrong time and pay more than I should and have to drive all over for the things I need.

So do you (or your readers) know: When is the best time for those back-to-school sales?

I imagine the answer will be slightly different depending upon when the school year starts in your town. Ours starts after Labor Day (early September), but others’ start in mid-August. Here in Portland, the school supply sales seem to have hit this past weekend.

I watch the Sunday newspaper ads and to get my shopping done as soon as I see them. Assuming I hit the sales, I buy all of my items at the same store, even if some are cheaper elsewhere. The time and stress saved is worth it to me.

What about you? What’s your strategy for saving money on school supplies?

Related: Start a school supply box to take long-term advantage of sales (inspired by Tonya’s comment below!)


  1. says

    ours start in july due to year-round school so you have to be paying attention – it seems so early! they go on for several weeks, so you have to watch the ads (or stroll through the back-to-school aisles if you’re already there). I agree, though, it’s not worth saving 25 cents on crayons to go to a different store if you’re already getting the rest of your stuff somewhere else…

  2. Mary says

    I just wait until they go on sale at Target and buy everything in one fell swoop. It’s not worth my time or gas money to drive around to other stores just to save 10 cents on markers.
    If I do find an awesome sale later, I’ll stock up our art supplies at home, or put them in the gift closet.

  3. Lisa says

    Staples and Target seem to have the best weekly super low deals (.20 crayons, $1 pencils, .01 erasers, etc). Staples is on my way home from work and Target, well I’m there A LOT anyway, so it’s no biggie to drop in weekly (or more if necessary due to quantity restrictions).

    This is my first year of supplies (kindergartner) so I still have a lot to learn.

  4. Tonya says

    I’ve found the best way to get school supplies cheap is to know what is on the list for every grade and stock up a month after school starts when everyone puts their supplies on clearance. This works best when you know what is on the list for the next grade or two. My daughter’s school requests that the kids have ticonderoga pencils (the ones pictured on the post here) and they never are part of the before school sales, so I always look in clearance for them. I found some last year after christmas that were breast cancer pink, and I only paid $1 for them instead of the $4 they normally are. I have one 12 x 12 box that I put school supplies in as I find them. This year I went through the box and the only things we needed off al ist of about 15 things was a pair of full size scissors (a change from the list last year) and 120 page notebooks. Obviously this won’t work for this year, but you can start after school starts and look for the things you need on clearance.

  5. Jen says

    You can get lots of items for dirt cheap or free right now. My son isn’t in school yet so I only really buy simple stuff like paper and crayons, but lots of the money saving blogs I read post lists of the best deals each week. Here are some to watch:

    There are more too–search something like “money saving blog yourcity” or “couponing yourcity”. These sites focus heavily on coupons, but you don’t need to use them if that’s not your thing. The blogs usually show the sale prices so you can compare between the stores and figure out which offer the best deals. And most of the stores with the back to school deals are national (Walgreens, Target, Office Depot) so check out which ones are in your area. Start looking NOW though, as the sales have been going for a couple weeks already.

  6. says

    I’m still waiting for our lists to be put on the website, but I might corner next year’s teacher in advance, I like the clearance idea!

    We live in a small town with two Universities, so there is a “Back to School” sale (now) and a WELCOME BACK STUDENTS, blow out. If the items might be useful for college catch the first day of the later sale, otherwise everything before hand. I try to go in one swoop and one store or one cluster of stores. We did Office Depot last year because they gave back to the school and since my daughter attends a charter school they don’t get any local public funding and need whatever they can get.

  7. says

    I agree. Physical shopping just seems like a lot of wasted energy and money. Plus, there’s nothing better than ordering stuff online, almost forgetting about it, and then having packages show up at your home.

  8. says

    The absolute best way is completely out of your control; it’s when the school orders it for you in bulk and you write them a check on the preview day when the kids meet their teachers. It does require some volunteers, but the teachers love that everyone has the right stuff and the parents love that they don’t have to shop. Awesome.

    My other kids get their lists from teachers on the first day, so we pretty much have no choice but to go to Office Depot or whatever that afternoon.

  9. RDavis says

    OfficeMax will price match and they have great sales. You can have them price match an item and then get it on sale (by sale I mean 20% off) They seem like they’d be more expensive than Walmart or Target but they usually have better deals and have all the stuff you need. (Like the red pencils we needed but could never find)

  10. star says

    i think $ stores are the way to go. even simply 99 cent stores will do the trick. Once i was shopping at walmart for school supplies and after spending $200. i realized there was a 99 cent next to it. i did some research and i realized i could have save $100! that goes to show u $1 stores r the big money savers