A Budget-Conscious Back-to-School Shopping List

By Sun Jung  •  August 04, 2014

August can start out as a tough month for the family. For kids and adolescents, it is the last month standing between summer and school. For parents, it is a shopping period that they need to tackle carefully. Although many back-to-school deals are hanging in the stores’ windows, it is important to have a comprehensive list of what to buy and where to buy it. Depending on whether your child is entering primary school or high school, below is a back-to-school shopping list that will fit your budget like a glove.

 

Essentials for All Ages

 

1. Backpacks

 

Before teachers even send out the supplies’ list, backpacks are a given regardless of age or gender. Brands like JanSport and Nike are popular for all students thanks to their durability and designs; unfortunately, they tend to be pricier than other names. For a limited time though, you can find those names with 30% to 50% off at Kohl’s. And if your purchase mounts up to $100 or more, you will get a 15% off coupon. For kindergarten and primary school parents, you can also find lunchboxes in Kohl’s already discounted.

 

 

2. Classroom supplies

All grade schools share a list of similar classroom supplies: No. 2 pencils, pens, water-based markers, pencil sharpeners, binders, notebooks, erasers, scissors, pocket folders, ruler, and stapler. A tip for budget-conscious parents is to aim for simplicity. While a notebook with Mickey Mouse cover is cuter, it is priced from three to ten times higher than a regular one. Save those extra dollars because fancy covers do not really correlate with higher grades. Target’s school’s supplies section is offering products below than the retail price right now. Pay as low as $0.99 for a notebook and use a $5 off coupon.

 

 

3. Instruments (for those with musicians in the family)

Chances are, your child’s curriculum requires certain number of units of music class. Some of you may have a musician who plays the clarinet, violin, or drums as an extra-curricular activity. Instruments are costly and it is best to buy them now when they are on sale. Kohl’s has a wide selection of instruments that are apt for students from primary to high school. For parents who want to seek more professional level instruments can shop in Music 123, Musician’s Friend, or Music & Arts.

 

 

For Kids

 

1. Clothing and shoes

 

Instead of digging the clearance bin for out-of-season apparel, let your children enjoy wearing the latest trends by using the 20% off back-to-school coupon on kids’ fashion at Macy’s. Featuring sizes from ages two and on, the collection has an array of shirts, jeans, and dresses to achieve that boho chic or preppy look. Did those summer sandals wear out? Buy them new shoes or sneakers with 20% off at Shoebuy.com.

 

 

2. Cell phones

While many parents would disagree on the appropriate age to inherit those finger-swapping addictive gadgets, sooner or later kids need to get their own mobile devices. If you think it’s time for your child to have a phone, make sure you check out present deals on cell phones that different carriers are offering. If you are looking for $0 of down payment, then let T-Mobile do the honors of becoming you kid’s first carrier. But if you want to save money on mobile models, then Verizon is at your best interest with its $50 off on selected devices.

 

 

3. Arts and Crafts

The biggest costs for kindergarteners originate from arts and craft supplies. For an entire school year, most of them need crayons, color pencils, markers, acrylic paints, chalks, drawing paper, fabric, yarn, art boards, and Play-Doh. Here’s an extra tip: when you buy markers and Play-Doh, always buy an extra set. Less than halfway through the year, kids are most likely to have dried markers with lost lids and brown Play-Doh from mixing. Office Depot has coupons ranging from $10 to $40 off that you can use depending on the cost of order.

 

 

For Teens

 

1. Clothing and shoes

 

When it comes to shopping, teenagers want twice the amount of what your actual budget is for their wardrobe. The best way to resolve this issue is shop for on-demand brands from stores that pile on sales. Tilly’s is the answer to your teen’s ever-changing taste and your solid budget. Find the 90s vintage or contemporary hip look while enjoying 20% off on your order. If your teenage daughter wants more variety, then Betsey Johnson has a unique collection of women fashion that they can rock with 20% off special.

 

 

2. Software and tech products

It is most likely that as your kid goes up to middle school and high school, the use of technology increases along with the cost. To accommodate all your teen’s technological uses, find tech products – ink, toner,  storage devices, computer accessories – in Shoplet and take 20% off while you are at it. Looking for a laptop? Dell is now offering a 20% to 30% off on its top selling models while Apple is giving $100 gift card with the purchase of a brand new laptop or tablet.

 

 

3. Test prep books

If your son or daughter is currently in high school, it is never too late to start preparing for SATs or AP exams. High scores can lead to scholarship incentives and acceptance letters in the future. Avoid purchasing it at a local bookstore because it will cost like a textbook. Instead, go to sites such as eCampus that offers the latest editions below their normal price range. Take advantage of the 5% off coupon that will be ending soon before school starts.



Sun Jung Sun Jung Sun Jung is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Southern California majoring in English Literature. Born in South Korea, she was raised in Guadalajara, Mexico for seventeen years before coming to LA for college.


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