Is Your Daughter Allowed To Go To School?


February 27, 2013

Learn All the Tricks


Families plan to spend an average of $519 per student this year on back-to-school expenses for kindergarten through high school kids, according to an annual survey by Deloitte, and total spending is projected to reach nearly $28 billion for the 2019 back-to-school season. With expenses sure to pile up in the near future, use these tips to help shave some costs right away, and in the months ahead.

Assuming Bulk is Best
Janine Lamontagne/istockphoto

Buy Food in Bulk


Instead of going for single-serving packaged foods designed for school lunches, buy in bulk and portion out favorite foods in reusable containers. For example, on, a box of 30 individual 1-ounce portions of Cheez-It crackers comes to 34 cents an ounce. A family-size box of the same crackers is about 20 cents an ounce — more than 40% cheaper.

Shop at Warehouse Clubs
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Shop at Warehouse Clubs


Whether you prefer Sam’s Club or Costco, warehouse stores are the place to stock up. Although there are many perks of membership, consumers can sidestep the fee by shopping with a member as a guest and reimbursing the member for any purchases. To make this an even better deal, consider splitting bulk purchases of grocery items and school supplies.

Jansport Superbreak Backpack

Think Long Term


Try to buy supplies that can last children longer than a single school year, such as a good-quality backpack. A name-brand backpack such as a JanSport can cost $30 to $50 compared with $15 to $25 for a generic-brand backpack. However, as with most things, you get what you pay for. A good backpack will last at least one more school year, saving $15 to $25 that would otherwise be spent on a new backpack each year the bag is reused. Opting for a solid color or pattern, instead of favorite characters, can help ensure the backpack won’t be declared “babyish” as a kid’s interests change. Check out these mohawk superfine office paper deals.

Swap Instead of Buying

Swap Instead of Buying


Check websites such as and Gumtree to see if someone else has something your children need. The Freecycle Network claims to have 9 million members around the world interested in recycling goods. A quick search on Freecycle uncovered plastic clothes hangers, language study books, and an office chair, all for free. Picking up all those items could easily save $100 or more.

Amazon Can't Be Ignored

Never Pay for Shipping


Check out, search online for free shipping codes, and check for special offers in RetailMeNot’s free shipping section. Avoid small online purchases that don’t reach the minimum threshold for free shipping. On Amazon, the magic number is $25, and at Target, it’s $35.

Stores With Strict Holiday Return Policies

Ask About Return Policies


Be sure a backpack or graphing calculator bought at a discount can be returned if necessary. Check store policies to see how long you have to bring back an item and whether a receipt is required to make the return.

Use Cash-Back Apps

Shop With a List


Many schools enumerate all the supplies recommended for the year. Stick to that list in the store to avoid buying things children don’t need or going over budget. (Shopping without the kids can also help.) Some schools offer boxes of the needed supplies, which are sold at bulk rates and completely eliminate the possibility of an extra item or two sneaking its way into the cart.

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