Where to Go for the Best Back-to-School Deals

Preparing to go back to school, whether you’re a college student or a parent needing to get younger kids ready to return to the classroom, can be overwhelming and expensive. The list of supplies needed may be extensive and parents who have more than one child may need help finding back-to-school deals to help them save money.

At Addition Financial, we love a bargain as much as our members do. We understand that starting a new school year can put a strain on anybody’s monthly budget. With that in mind, we’ve looked around to identify the best back-to-school deals to help you shop for clothes, classroom supplies and more.

How to Prepare for Back-to-School Shopping

Before we share where to go for the best back-to-school deals, let’s talk about preparation. One of the reasons that back-to-school shopping can be so stressful is that parents sometimes don’t prepare, and that can lead to unnecessary stress.

Ideally, the best time to prepare for school shopping is as soon as the old school year ends – or even better, prepare by setting money aside for school supplies and related expenses each month, so you always have money on hand.

If a monthly savings plan doesn’t work, then consider setting some money aside from your summer budget to ensure you have the funds you need to shop. There are certain expenses you know you’ll have, such as buying back-to-school outfits and school shoes for the new year. These are budget items you can control and you can feel free to begin shopping for clothes as soon as you want.

The other part of preparation involves waiting for supply lists from your child’s school. You may not receive those until the first day of school is approaching, but you can reasonably expect to be required to buy notebooks, pens, pencils, binders, highlighters and other supplies. If your child plays a sport or participates in any after school activities, you may need to buy supplies for those things as well.

Even if you can’t create a final budget, you can estimate based on the previous year’s expenses and what you can afford for the items you control. Doing so will help you save what you need and allow you to keep an eye open for early deals as they become available.

When Do Back-to-School Sales Start?

The next thing we want to address is when you can expect to find back-to-school sales. There may be discounts or coupons available for some school supplies at any time of year, just as you may be able to find sales on clothes or shoes. However, the annual back-to-school sales typically start between one and two months before the beginning of the new school year.

In the summer of 2022, we started seeing school-related sales immediately after the July 4th holiday both in stores and online. Many stores, including large retailers such as Target and Walmart, have special sections dedicated to school supplies and deals. In most cases, they’re in the same part of the store where you would expect to find holiday decorations and other seasonal items.

When Should You Begin Shopping for School Supplies?

Deciding when to begin shopping may require some finesse. The advantage of shopping early, as soon as back-to-school sales start, is that you’ll have the widest possible selection of supplies to choose from. However, doing your shopping a little later may allow you to find lower prices and deeper discounts than you would if you shopped early.

We think the best plan is to begin shopping as soon as you have your list of school supplies or, in the case of clothing and shoes, whenever you spot a good sale. Fall and winter clothing items often appear in stores as early as mid-summer, which means you can start to shop then. Of course, you’ll need to keep your child’s growth rate in mind, and you may need to buy items a size larger than what your child is wearing to allow for summer growth.

What Types of Back-to-School Deals Are Available?

As you prepare to shop for school supplies, you may want to keep in mind that there are several types of deals that you may be able to take advantage of:

  • Coupons. Your local newspaper probably includes coupons in the weekend or Sunday edition. Once back-to-school deals start, you may find coupons for things like notebooks, pens, binders, or lunchbox favorites, so you can stock up early.
  • Promo codes. If you do a lot of school shopping online, keep an eye out for any back-to-school promo code that can help you save on necessary purchases. A back-to-school promotion might include a buy one item, get one free deal or a 50% code. 
  • Sale events. Both brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers often have school-related sales where you can save on everything your child needs to go back to school. Sales are a terrific way to minimize your spending.

Keep in mind that you can use online coupon scanners such as Honey, Coupons.com, and Rakuten to find deals without having to spend your valuable time looking for them.

back to school savings checklist

Where to Find the Best Back-to-School Deals

Now, let’s talk about some of the best places where you can find the best back-to-school deals before you start shopping. 


Target is a major retailer that prioritizes back-to-school savings for kids and college students. Target school supplies are some of the most affordable around, with prices starting at just $0.25 for a host of items, including the following:

  • Crayons
  • Colored pencils
  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Erasers
  • Notebooks
  • Folders
  • Glue sticks

Because supplies may run out, you should consider stocking up on the basics as soon as the sales begin. Keep in mind that back-to-school supplies are available online and in stores.


Like Target, Walmart is a nationwide retailer with back-to-school deals both in their stores and online. Their online back-to-school section is conveniently organized by grade level, making it easy to find what you need.

There are many basic school supplies being sold for less than a dollar, including:

  • Notebooks
  • Rulers
  • Index cards
  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Erasers

They also have an array of deals for kids’ snacks, clothing, backpacks, shoes, and more. 


Amazon is the largest retailer in the world and that makes it a terrific place to find school supplies and clothing at affordable prices. In fact, Amazon has affordable prices year-round, so if you’re the type of person who likes to shop early, you can pick up things like pens and notebooks at any time.

Amazon’s back-to-school section isn’t as clearly defined as the ones for Target and Walmart, but if you search for back-to-school supplies, you can use the menu on the left-hand side of the screen to navigate between departments or narrow your search by the type of supplies you need.

Amazon also has great prices on kids’ clothing, shoes, and accessories, as well as on sporting equipment, electronics and snacks.


If you like to buy in bulk, then heading to Costco for your back-to-school shopping can help you find some great deals. Parents with more than one child may be able to find low prices for large packages of notebooks and other staple items.

Costco isn’t the place where you’ll find unicorn notebooks or Star Wars items, but for staples where the design isn’t the point, such as glue, Post-It notes or index cards, shopping there can help you save a lot. It’s also an ideal place to stock up on kids’ lunch and snack favorites, since buying in bulk can be considerably less expensive than shopping for these items at the supermarket.

Office Supply Stores

Another option to consider is shopping at office supply stores such as Staples and OfficeMax. Whether you’re shopping for basics like pens and paper or more expensive items like a laptop, you can find good deals and employees who will help you find whatever you’re looking for.

While the majority of products in a store like Staples might be targeted at adults, they typically have a selection of kid-friendly items with fun designs and bright colors in the summer and early fall. There’s also the advantage of potentially being able to cross off everything on your kid’s back-to-school supply list in one location.

Best Buy

If you need to buy electronics for your kid, such as a new laptop or a tablet, then you can find low prices plus experienced help at Best Buy.

What we like about Best Buy is that they offer excellent back-to-school sales together with their Geek Squad coverage to protect you if your kid damages their electronics after you buy them.

Old Navy

There are plenty of places to get deals on kids’ back-to-school outfits, but Old Navy is one of the best. Their prices are low all year, but they offer fantastic deals for back-to-school items. You can stock up on wardrobe basics, including tee-shirts, jeans, shorts, sweaters, hoodies, and more. They even sell accessories.

Like most of the other retailers on our list, Old Navy has a well-designed website where it’s easy to find bargains on everything your kid (or college student) needs to start the new school year.

Finding back-to-school deals is a must as the new school year approaches. The retailers we’ve listed here all offer substantial back-to-school savings as the shopping finish line approaches. Having a budget and a list will ensure you get everything you need at a price you can afford.

Do you need a student account for your child? Click here to learn about Addition Financial’s Youth Checking and Savings options and open an account today.

The content provided here is not legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. Please consult with legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific needs or questions you may have. We do not make any guarantees as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not support any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability or legal obligations for your use of this information.