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Back-to-School Shopping for All Ages

August 25, 2021

Back-to-school shopping can be a very exciting time of year. It can also quickly become stressful, especially if you have kids in different grades. Different grades need different supplies, and the cost can really start to add up.

To help ease the stress of back-to-school shopping, we have made a list of common supplies each grade needs, tips on how to shop for clothes, and advice for shopping on a budget.

Elementary School

When you start your back-to-school shopping, it is important to have an idea of your child’s schedule and what classes they will be in. Knowing your child’s schedule allows you to plan for the number of notebooks and binders you will need to get and, hopefully, save time and spend less in the process.

Some schools will specify that each class needs its own notebook or binder, but if they don’t, you may be able to spend less money by doubling up the subjects. For example, instead of a binder for math and a binder for science, you can get one larger binder and have room for both subjects in one.

Elementary school students may need some art supplies for a variety of projects assigned to them throughout the year. Depending on grade, plan to get items such as glue sticks, #2 pencils, colored pencils/markers, and erasers. They will also need a backpack for all their supplies and a lunchbox.

Clothes shopping for this age range can be difficult. Elementary school kids grow rapidly, so what may fit at the start of the year might not fit by the end.

Many stores will do back-to-school sales, which are an excellent opportunity to spend less when buying new clothes for your child.

High School

Fortunately, after elementary school, many of the school supplies stay the same, which means you could spend less by “shopping at home.”

If you have a home office, you can start looking there for pens and pencils your student needs for class. You may find extras that have been unused or unopened, or even ones that are still good from the year before and can be used again. The same goes for backpacks and lunchboxes. As long as your student still likes them and they function well, these things can be reused.

Supplies may be more expensive in high school because the learning tools needed are more advanced than those of elementary school. Math classes and science classes may start requiring special calculators for classwork and homework. There will likely be a lot more computer work involved, so your child may need a USB drive to transfer their work to and from home.

Office supply stores typically have back-to-school sales you can check out for these kinds of items. You can also see if your state is doing any “tax-free” days before school starts. Sales tax holidays are a fantastic way to help pay less back-to-school shopping.


Textbooks are usually the most expensive things your student will need to buy in college, but luckily there are a couple of ways you can try to spend less.

Start with the bookstore on campus and ask about their rental policy. Campus bookstores typically have a rental policy. This can be an efficient way to get books for each semester.

You can also check out online websites – even Amazon has some good sales on books you may need.

Many students are also willing to sell their textbooks at a discounted rate, so students may connect with some of their senior colleagues to see what they may have.

Signing up for a credit card may also help your student to relieve some of that initial burden. Your student can use it to buy their school supplies while building their credit to accommodate bigger expenses in the future.

Inquire if stores have offers for students. Most student discounts are for those in college anyway, and you would be surprised by how many unsuspecting places actually offer a student discount. You may also ask restaurants, museums, and clothing retailers if they have any student offers.

Complete Your Back-to-School Shopping with Confidence

Reduce your back-to-school shopping stress by taking an inventory of what you already have, creating a list of what you need, and establishing a budget. Use coupons and take advantage of sales everywhere you can to help reduce the amount you spend. By following these tips, back-to-school shopping could be a breeze.

Need help with your back-to-school shopping? Get a personal loan from Mariner Finance today.

Blog posts are for informational purposes only.

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