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Back to School Shopping on a Budget: HS & College Edition

monster1991 profile picture
June 29, 2016 · 1.7k Views

Well hello hello! I realize it's still a tad early for back to school shopping since we’re only a month into summer. However, some of the best parts of school is shopping for all your new school gears and for freshman college students… decorating your dorm room. Back in high school and college, I had a lot of favorite go-to stores for cheap school supplies and clothing. Now with the prevalence of online coupon discounts, abundance of weekly sales and fast shipping… it's a back to school shopping dream come true. Check out the list below for ways to snag deals and beat the back to school shopping crowd this year! This post is focused on high school and college student (though some tips applicable to elementary students) but stay tuned for our kids’ edition.

You can always save on anything from tech to the best clothing sales just by peeking at DealsPlus homepage. Check out our popular coupons and don't miss out any coupon discounts during online check outs! 


School Supplies

Source: Four Corner News Leader

First things first, awesome school supplies. High school was all about fancy gel roller pens, top of the line mechanical pencil, sleek folders and a billion binders for me but... stuff adds up. Instead of visiting your local supermarket for these items, consider these alternatives:

Dollar Stores - Dollar Tree, Dollar General etc

The dollar store is probably one of my favorite places to pick up stationery, pens and such because it's just so cheap. I highly recommend picking up binders, folders, dividers, pencils, highlighters and pens here. As for notebooks, paper and post-its, those are better bought in bulk at your local Target, Walmart, your local warehouse at Costco or online at Amazon. For parents, this is especially the case if you have multiple kids to pick up items for.


Walmart is inconvenient and inexpensive as a one stop shop for back to school items if you shop at the right time. We recommend checking up at Walmart online page since they normally announce their back to school sales. You should expect back to school sales to happen around late July and runs through September.


Another great online source for buying in bulk! A lot of ebay sellers either sell certain things in bulk or create easy back to school bundles so you don’t even need to head in stores. If you’re spending time shopping online for back to school items, you’re sure to spend a good few hours browsing through all that ebay has to offer.

Closer to August, check out ebay daily deal events for handpicked savings up to 50% off. Easily find all top daily offers on this page!

Big Lots

I don’t know where everyone else shops but back in the day, Big Lots was (and still is in my books) where it’s at. You can easily find all your school supplies as well as some dorm room essentials at Big Lots. They carry everything from cheap cookwares to rugs for your dorm room AND it's pretty cheap. Plus, Big Lots just launched the beta version of their online portal so you can shop a great deal of their offers online and get free shipping on your order of $99 and over with their code FREESHIP at checkout.


Back to School Wardrobe Refresh

Source: Women History

School supplies is a given for Walmart and Target but the same can’t be said for clothes. Though Target clothing selection has greatly improved over the years, it's still on the pricey side (unless you religiously shop their 75% off clearance rack). If you’re shopping for basics or school uniforms, Walmart clothing quality is good for those but if you’re shopping for pieces on the trendy side, you’re best off check out these top store brands:

Forever 21

Forever 21 was (and still is…) one of my go-tos for basics, accessories and trendy clothing. They have new collections nearly every week and their in-season items as well as clearance items are decently priced for the quality so it's a perfect one stop shop (in my opinion). Plus, they now carry women’s, men’s and kids’ clothing! If you’re shopping online, don’t forget to check for Forever 21 coupon codes, otherwise you could be missing out on an extra 10-15% off your purchase.


ASOS can be pricey but I find the quality of their clothing better than Forever 21. If you shop their outlet, you can still find some pieces at amazing markdown prices. If you want to rock unique items with a flair, try shopping at ASOS marketplace. The marketplace feature items from tons of sellers and to get rid of barely worn items collecting dust in your closet, you can also sign up to be a seller.

Old Navy & GAP

This is recommended for good quality basics as well! Old Navy runs a sale online and in stores every week so be sure to check that out. GAP has decent sale on quality clothes already but GAP Factory = $5 tanks and shirts or $10 flats. The only thing I would warn about GAP Factory (or any outlets for that matter) is to pay attention to the clothing material and quality. Some items are made specifically for outlet sale and so they may be inferior to clothing quality at the actual GAP store.


Yes, it is expensive but quality matters! A pair of Nike could last you the whole school year and then some. Plus, they’re comfortable. Plus, they’re stylish. You probably won’t need another pair of workout shoes or casual sneakers for the rest of the school year (I mean, unless you have money and you really want another pair, there’s no stopping you then).

There are a lot of tips on how you can get Nike shoes for less but my favorite is shopping their outlets or waiting for their rare extra 25% off online clearance code. I have a feeling it’ll be back just in time for back to school shopping so keep an eye out on our Nike page.

Off-Price Retailers TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross & Nordstrom Rack

If you’re a frugalista, these 4 stores are probably a weekly visit for you. Off price retailers is THE best place to shop for quality items at up to 75% off discounts. I find 50% off Nike sneakers here and grab massive discounts on anything from Coach to TopShop. If you like brand names and variety, this will be your true one stop shop.

Discount Weapon for Online Student Shoppers: UNiDAYS

Source: UNiDAYS

UNiDAYS is basically a company that works with top brands to offer student discounts constantly. As a student, you’ll always get discounts at certain stores so long as you sign up (free!) at UNiDAYS with your .edu email. Once you’re logged in and verified, you can browse all available discount offers on their homepage and grab a single use code for your purchase. That’s an extra 10% off at Urban Outfitters, extra 10% off at ASOS and more!


Fresh Tech for School

Source: Mac Price Australia

For anything tech, I recommend shopping during back to school sales from the likes of Best Buy and Walmart and don’t forget to take advantage of educational discounts! For educational discounts, you need only present your student id in stores or provide a .edu email online.

For example, for Apple, you can save up to $200 off your Mac products and they sometimes offer a freebie headphone (ex: beats by Dr. Dre)! So keep an eye out for that.

We also made a list of reliable laptops under $500 from name brands like Dell and ASUS so see if you can find one and beat the sale rush now. However, if you're in no hurry to grab one, definitely wait it out till Black Friday (for any tech). That’s when most electronics hit their lowest price point as brands make room for newer models to debut next year. Need to do a little research? Check out last year’s Black Friday ad from top electronics retailer: Walmart, Target and Best Buy. This year’s Black Friday will likely mimic stellar offers from the previous year if not better.

How do you usually do your back to school shopping? Any tips for other shoppers?

See how you can snag even more deals and discounts from your favorite retailers:


monster1991 profile picture
I wanna be the very best like no one ever was. Couponing is my real test, to cut them is my cause. I will travel across the land, searching far and wide. Each store to understand, the discounts that's inside.

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