Back-To-School Survival Guide

Back-To-School Survival Guide

For many youngsters, back-to-school shopping is a fresh start. They can’t wait to find that “Look how cool I got over summer” outfit to wear on Picture Day or that snazzy new backpack to shove all their junk in. But for most parents, this time is filled with dread. The cost of supplies adds up quickly, and store options are overwhelming.

But fear no more. We crafted a back-to-school survival guide, so you can start planning stress-free. Read on for handy tidbits and sale predictions.

Check for Things You Already Have

School supplies

Before you hit the shelves, take an inventory of school supplies in your home. You may find rulers, protractors, glue sticks, calculators and more in the family office desk drawer.

Buy Essentials at Dollar Stores


10-digit scientific calculators from Dollar Tree

If you can’t find used necessities, you can nab calculators and other basics for cheap at dollar stores. Dollar Tree has simple battery-operated plastic pocket calculators and 10-digit scientific ones for just $1 a pop (4 purchase minimum).

The latter solves advanced engineering, physics, trigonometry, and statistics problems. So, it’s great for both beginner and AP classes. Prove the smarty pants gene runs in the family by using our 4% cash back.

Avoid Trendy Items, and Get Refurbished Electronics

eBags backpack

Dickies backpack from eBags

Your little scholar might say she “can’t live without” that Rebecca Minkoff Julian mini metallic convertible backpack (it really is cute though!). But she’ll probably change her mind when her favorite Instagram influencer does a new fashion haul. And you don’t want your purchase to go to waste. So, you’re better off going with a generic but sturdy backpack.

eBags has stylish and affordable merchandise. You can snatch a Dickies backpack for just $18.99. Double dip in the savings pool with our 15% cash back.

Once you’ve found a bag, head over to TigerDirect for refurbished tech. You can save big on laptops, monitors and other devices. Slash prices even more with our 2% cash back.

Enjoy the Tax-Free Holiday


Many states offer tax-free weekends during mid to late summer, and covered items typically include clothing, electronics and other academic must-haves. You can check your state’s dates on the Federation of Tax Administrators page. And keep an eye out for back-to-school sales during that time, so you can make the most of your spree.

Price Match

School supplies

When it comes to bargaining, don’t be shy at leading stores like Target and Office Depot & OfficeMax. If you find an identical item for a lower price elsewhere, they’ll match that amount.

Shop Early AND Late

Back to school sales

In the beginning of July, many stores offer loss leaders (or a below market cost pricing strategy) on back-to-school goodies to drive traffic to their sites. They’re hoping you take the bait and then go on to buy other stuff. And in early September, they put these products on clearance. So, it’s worth jumping in quick and then waiting it out.

Back-To-School Sales to Look out For

school supplies

In order to snag the best deals, you need an attack plan. Some of last year’s top offers sprung up in July, and this included heavy hitters like Target, JCPenney, Walgreens and more.

Target had a BOGO 25% off Yoobi school items and locker accessories event. And bargain hunters could pocket $10 when they spent $50 and over on select kids’ apparel and accessories at JCPenney.

Walgreens had a BOGO 50% off school supplies promo, and Office Depot & Office Max listed a bunch of $.50 deals. But that wasn’t all!

Customers could get 20% off academic essentials when they bought a backpack at Staples. And they could snag a Pen+Gear one-subject, 70-sheet notebook for only $.25 in addition to other heavily discounted treasures at Walmart.

So, there you have it. Our 2019 back-to-school survival guide. We can’t help you get your kids up for class. And we can’t cook brownies for all those bake sales---though we’d like to! But these tips will allow you to save for healthy lunches, post-sports game treats and more.

No matter what you purchase, get the best bang for your buck with our unbeatable cash back rates. And keep peeking on our Top Offers page for the latest promos.

Editor's Note: Promos were correct at time of publication.

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