A child holds various colored pencils in their hands

6 ways to save on back-to-school shopping

Did you know that the second biggest shopping season is back to school? But before that flood of “first day of school” photos on social media hits, parents and guardians have to fill those backpack with everything their children need to succeed.

Last year, parents and guardians spent $597 per child on back-to-school shopping. In total, this year’s U.S. back-to-school spending is projected to reach $81 billion. That’s a lot of backpacks and calculators!

If you’re part of the quarter of all U.S. households that will be sending your kids back to class this year, you’re probably looking for any opportunities to save on back-to-school shopping. Here are six tips and tricks to help you save money on your next back-to-school shopping trip:

1. Stick to the list

Your child’s school will send out a list of required school supplies. If you haven’t received one yet, check out our ultimate list of school supplies broken down by grade. Try to wait until you have a good idea of what your kid will actually need so you aren’t spending too much on things they won’t use. 

Once you have the list in hand, consider shopping for supplies online. It’s a great way to resist impulse buys at the store, especially if you’re shopping with the kiddos, plus you’ll save on gas money and avoid the lines! Many stores have local supply lists posted online, so you can add everything you need to your cart with just a few clicks. Just make sure you visit through the Ibotta app to earn cash back on your online purchases.

2. Reduce, reuse, recycle

Wait! Before you buy, take stock of what you already have at home. Do you have a stash of office supplies that you can raid? What about an older child who can pass along pre-loved school clothes they’ve outgrown? Are the colored pencils they used last year in good enough shape to make it a while longer? 

Then, expand your search. Consider asking friends with older children if they have school supplies or clothing they no longer need. Online communities like Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor are also great places to look. You’ll reduce your impact on the planet and your bank account.

3. Comparison shop

Prices can vary a lot from store to store, so it’s worth doing your homework (your kids will be doing theirs soon enough!) to find the best prices, especially on big-ticket items like computers, software, electronics, shoes, and coats. Make sure to also compare cash back amounts between stores! Check out the Ibotta browser extension to help with this. 

4. Reap the rewards of loyalty programs

We know, we know — when you’ve got a list of back-to-school supplies a mile long and a couple of kids in tow, the last thing you want to do is stand at the register and sign up for a store loyalty program. But that 30 seconds could save you some major cash. Once you’ve signed up, you can link your store loyalty accounts in the Ibotta app.

Then, when it’s time for back-to-school shopping, choose offers in the Ibotta app before you head to the store, scan your loyalty card at checkout, and you’ll be able to skip uploading your receipts. You’ll get all the benefits of the in-store loyalty program plus earn cash back through Ibotta.

5. Shop september sales

It’s tempting to do all your back-to-school shopping in one go, but good things come to those who wait. If there are items you don’t need to purchase right away, you’ll save money by waiting until September, when school supplies and clothing go on sale to make way for holiday merchandise.

6. Save more on back-to-school shopping with Ibotta

Save even more money on school supplies and clothing when you shop with Ibotta. If you’re shopping in person, add offers in the Ibotta app before you shop, then upload your receipt afterward to earn cash back. 

Check out our Back to School page for the brands with back to school cash back offers. If you’re shopping online, visit the Online Shopping section of the Ibotta app to make your purchases and save automatically.

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