According to the Huntington Bank Backpack Index, parents saw a significant increase in school supply costs from 2018 to 2019 at every educational level.

  • $1,017 for elementary school students – a 35% increase from 2018

  • $1,277 for middle school students – a 22% increase from 2018

  • $1,668 for high school students – an 11% increase from 2019

That number is likely to increase this year, with parents across the country having to spend to get their kids set up for digital learning.

Luckily there are ways to reduce the financial hit without hindering your child’s learning.

Start at Home

The best place to start your shopping is at home. Oftentimes parents buy more than they need each year, meaning there are plenty of leftover pencils, pens, notebooks, and folders stashed around the house.

Before ever heading to a store, do an inventory in the house to see what you already have.

Shop with a List

Whenever we go grocery shopping without a list, somehow more and more things end up in our carts. A similar thing can happen when back-to-school shopping.

Bring the list your kids’ school gave you so you don’t end up buying something you don’t need or buying more than you need.

Also, if you found things on the list at home, make sure and mark those off before you leave the house so you don’t unnecessarily double-up.

Shop Around

It may be easier to purchase everything on your shopping list at one store, but doing a little research ahead of time can save you money.

Stores like Walmart and Target offer big discounts on school supplies until September. But they’re not the only ones.

Check out ads for stores like Staples, Office Depot, Walgreens or CVS, and the Dollar Store to find really good deals on items.

If you prefer to do your shopping online this year, add Amazon to the list of “stores” to peruse for big markdowns.

Don’t Pay for Shipping

Speaking of shopping online, these days, you can avoid having to pay to get your orders shipped to your door.

Check out, or search online for free shipping codes. 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.

Spend Where it Matters

The saying “you get what you pay for” exists for a reason.

Sure, you can save a few bucks buying the $15 or $20 generic brand backpack. But spending a little more on a brand name, like Jansport, can save you in the long run.

Instead of having to replace bigger budget items every year, spend a little more now to save you having to replace it more often.

Buy Refurbished

Spending a little more doesn’t mean you have to buy brand-new. If a new computer is on this year’s shopping list, consider buying a refurbished one.

Just make sure you are buying from a certified reseller.

One place in particular to look is eBay. They often have great options from Acer, Dell Outlet and more, and they come with a 90-day warranty, 30-day returns and are backed by eBay’s Money Back Guarantee. 

Buy in Bulk

Why not save money on lunches too! When shopping, hit up places that sell items in bulk.

Buy the 5-pound bag of mini carrots then split them up into little baggies. Buy the family-sized box of portioned crackers over the smaller box. These little moves can save as much as 40% in food costs.

Earn Rewards

You have to buy these supplies, why not get rewarded for it?

If you have the cash to afford everything up front, consider buying everything with a credit card that offers rebates and rewards and then immediately paying it off.

Or, go with a checking account that rewards you for spending. With the RiverWind Kasasa Cash Back Checking account, customers earn back a percentage of what they spend using their debit card.