Start Your Back-to-School Shopping Now and Save Later

Ready to save big on school supplies this year? Start shopping now.

school supplies
••• David Franklin/Getty Images

It happens every year: you receive your child’s summer assignments for school, and along with that comes an exhaustive list of school supplies that you’re expected to purchase for the coming year. From glue sticks to pens to even tissue boxes, you are likely to spend hours in the store and hundreds at the cash register trying to score everything on the teachers’ extensive lists. Add to that the school clothes and electronics your child will need, and you’re probably spending around four figures.

However, there is a great way to save on those items—buy them now. You can often find cheap school supplies in June and July so you won’t have to brave the crowds in August. Keep reading to find the scoop on what to buy now to maximize your savings.

Take Advantage of Tax Holidays

Your first step in planning out your back-to-school haul is to determine when the tax holidays in your state will take effect. This chart from the Federation of Tax Administrators has a comprehensive listing of the items that aren’t taxable during certain dates, and you’ll want to plan around it.

For example, Alabama residents will be able to shop for clothes, school supplies, non-commercial books, computers, software, and school computer equipment without having to pay tax between July 19 and July 21 this year.

To break down the potential savings on a tax-free weekend like this, check out the following example:

Standard weekend with 4% state sales tax on purchases:

  • $100 in clothing comes to $104.00
  • $30 in books comes to $31.20
  • $50 in school supplies comes to $52.00
  • $400 computer comes to $416

Total spent: $603.20


Tax-free weekend with no sales tax:

  • $100 in clothing
  • $30 in books
  • $50 in school supplies
  • $400 computer

Total spent: $580.00


Total savings during the tax-free weekend: $23.20

Clothing

You can benefit from seasonal sales on clothing when browsing for back-to-school items, and you’ll find steep discounts in June and July, particularly on clothes that are warm weather-focused. For instance, T-shirts, skirts, shorts, and sandals will be on deep discount this month as retailers work to get rid of inventory and prepare to bring in the fall clothes. Stock up on T-shirts, tank tops, skirts and anything else your kids will wear throughout the year. In addition, if your kids are done growing, you can also buy clothing for next spring and summer now to ensure you get the best deals possible.

Electronics

You may think your kids won’t need electronics for the new school year, but that’s not always the case. One thing that will be indispensable for older kids is the TI-84 calculator, which is typically required for all math classes in high school and college, as well as for the SAT and ACT. Right now is the best time to buy yours. Why? Because students who just finished high school (and plan to major in something not requiring high-level math), as well as those graduating from college, realize they no longer need their $120 calculator and are happy to sell you their used one for half-price. Getting a calculator with all the bells and whistles and saving 50% while you do it is always a welcome feeling.

Check out your local Craigslist or Facebook sales groups to find out who’s selling one near you.

In addition, those students heading to high school or college are likely to need a new laptop, and the end of July marks one of the best periods of the year to buy yours. So start planning for your computer purchase now so you know exactly what you might need when the sales crop up.

Keep Watching the Sales Flyers & Online Offers

As most frequent Amazon shoppers are aware, the company hosts its annual “Prime Day” celebration in the summertime, typically in July. So it’s in your best interest to keep your eyes open for when that’s coming this year. You’ll be able to evaluate the prices on everything from clothes and jewelry to electronics and shoes.

In addition to Amazon, you’ll want to check the sales flyers in each week’s Sunday newspaper. You’d be surprised at how many companies aim to get a jump on the back-to-school season with great deals on index cards, magic markers, tissues, and everything else you’ll need as part of your school supply haul.

Article Table of Contents Skip to section