Back To School Supplies

This post is sponsored by Spruce. All opinions are 100% my own.

One of my favorite memories as a child was shopping for back-to-school supplies with my mom. I could not wait to hand-select a new Lisa Frank folder and splurge on a set of glitter gel pens. Back to school shopping symbolized the end of summer, and the beginning of what I hoped was going to be an amazing school year.

As a mom with two kids in elementary school, I want my children to experience the same level of excitement as I did when we pick out school supplies for the upcoming year. However, I also don’t want it to cost me a fortune. Sending your kids back to school can get expensive. Throw in today’s inflationary environment and you might be shocked at how much school supplies can cost.

Thankfully, planning for back-to-school costs in advance and signing up for Spruce makes saving money manageable. Check out these 5 tips on how to save money on back to school supplies this year.

Mom with kids and school supplies

Savings Tip #1: Complete a supply sweep

Last year I stood in the school supply aisle with my list in hand. Each of my children needed a new pair of scissors. As I started to reach for shiny new scissors, two questions entered my mind.

Don’t they already have scissors?

But where were they?

I remembered buying my children new scissors the year before, but I honestly didn’t know where on earth they were. I sighed, grabbed two pairs of scissors, and tossed them into my basket.

Low and behold, a few weeks later I came across two perfectly good pairs of scissors buried in the back of their not-so-tidy desk drawers. Had I taken the time to check my home for what we already had in stock, I could have saved myself money.

Before you start shopping for back-to-school supplies, conduct a supply sweep of your home.

Here’s how a supply sweep works:

  1. Print out your child’s school supply list.
  2. Search your home for any item you might already have in stock. Be sure to check your child’s backpack. Many times teachers send home student’s unused supplies on the last day of school in their backpack.
  3. Gather the supplies you already have on hand and then go to the store for anything you are missing.

Chances are you can save money by spending fifteen minutes completing a supply sweep in your home. I made sure to check out what we had in stock before buying any supplies. My oldest son and our dog even helped me out. I hope you do the same!

Mom with son and dog

Savings Tip #2: Start saving in advance

Every August the same scene plays out: I buy my children a new pair of shoes, clothes, and the supplies that the school requests. Every now and then we replace a well-loved backpack that has holes or a lunchbox that disappeared at the end of the last school year.

Yet every year, I am somehow shocked by just how much these supplies cost me! With two kids in school and a husband who teaches, we do our fair share of back-to-school shopping.

Years ago, I decided that I would no longer “wing it” when it came to back to school supplies. I decided to start saving for this expense months in advance. I started by setting aside $50 in May, June, and July for back-to-school supplies. While my money didn’t always cover the entire cost of our supplies, it did help cover a portion of it. In return, I was less stressed and had more peace of mind with my money.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to start saving for back-to-school costs! Spruce makes this easy by allowing you to set savings goals for things you want or need. When you sign up with Spruce, you can create a dedicated savings goal for back-to-school supplies. This is exactly what I did!

Spruce Back to School Savings Goal

Plus, Spruce has a cool round-up feature that makes saving money easy and automatic! When you turn on Round up, each time you use your Spruce card to make a purchase your total will round up to the nearest dollar. Then, Spruce will transfer that extra money from your spending account to your savings. This is an easy and automatic way to set aside extra money for any back-to-school costs! Click here to learn more about Spruce and the new round up feature.

Spruce App

Savings Tip #3: Have a plan before you shop

Every time I go pick up school supplies for my kids, I’m amazed at the number of choices and options that are available these days. They have folders in every shade you can imagine, miniature staplers that come in twenty color options, and binders of all designs.

I personally become a little overwhelmed when I’m tasked with picking out school supplies for my kids.  However, my stress eases when I know I have entered the store with a plan in place. Armed with my kid’s school supply list, I know what we need and what we don’t need. This allows me to pick up only the supplies that are required and I always let my kids choose a “bonus” supply that they want to buy. Spoiler: one of my kid’s chose a miniature stapler because you never know when you’ll need to secure papers together!

Back to school supplies

Most schools provide a back-to-school list of must-have items that have been assigned to your child’s grade level. Before you ever set foot in a store or make a purchase online, print off the list so you know exactly what you need to buy.

When you go into the store with a plan in place, you’ll eliminate any unnecessary impulse shopping. This plan will help you and your child stay focused on what they need versus what they want when it comes to supplies. If you’re reading this article, then you’ll likely save money this year and might even have a little room left in your budget. If so, offer to buy them something for fun that will get them excited about the upcoming school year.

Back to school supply list

Savings Tip #4: Shop during tax free weekends

Seventeen states offer sales tax holidays each year. Essentially, sales tax is waived for back-to-school supplies such as notebooks, pens, backpacks, and even uniforms. Depending on the sales tax rate in your area, this can save you a lot of money.

I’ve known people that purchase all of their school supplies and back to school clothes during tax free weekend. The best part is that many stores don’t limit their tax-free weekend to in-store purchases. This means you can purchase items online and still skip taxes on qualifying purchases. Shopping online can help limit impulse purchases while saving time and money.

Be sure to look online for whether or not your state has a tax-free weekend and if they do, look over the guidelines in advance.

School Supplies: Pencils

Savings Tip #5: Earn cash back on your purchases

If you have a school-aged child, back to school shopping is inevitable. So why not earn a little cash back in the process?

One thing I love about Spruce is that they offer automatic cash back rewards at select retailers through Dosh.3 This means that I can make money when I spend money.

Here’s how I earned cash back while shopping for school supplies this year:

  1. I took my kids back to school shopping and used my Spruce card at participating retailers.
  2. Because I used my Spruce card, I earned cash back which was automatically deposited into my designated “Spruce Extra Savings” account.

That’s it! Now I have extra money sitting in my Savings account that I can use for anything I want (like saving for upcoming Christmas gifts).

Spruce allows you to earn cash back at 10,000+ retailers, including groceries stores, hotels, and restaurants. This is my favorite tip of all because who doesn’t want to earn cash back for something they already planned to buy? I know I do! Be sure to check out Spruce and their cash back offers.

Spruce app cash back earned

Spruce helps you save money

If you are ready to save money (especially with inflation rates like these!) then you’ll want to check out Spruce.

Spruce is helping families save for back-to-school supplies, school fees, new clothes, tuition, and more! Plus, they have great features that you’ll enjoy including:

  • No monthly fees or sign up fees1.
  • Savings goals which help you put away money for an emergency or back to school needs.
  • Cash back offers that allow you to earn cash back at select retailers that you know and love.
  • Spending and savings accounts to keep your money organized.
  • Early paychecks! Get paid up to two days early when you sign up for Spruce Direct Deposit2.

>>Click here to learn more about Spruce and how it can help save you money!

Spruce App Savings

The Bottom Line

There’s no doubt about it: back to school costs can add up fast. But if you’re willing to plan in advance and sign up for Spruce, you can save money during the process. Which of these tips will you try first?


Spruce is a financial technology platform built by H&R Block, which is not a bank.  Banking products provided by MetaBank®, N.A., Member FDIC.

Spruce℠ Spending and Savings Accounts are established at, and the Spruce debit card is issued by, MetaBank®, N.A., Member FDIC, pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated. Mastercard® and the circles design are registered trademarks of Mastercard International Incorporated.

1 Other fees apply for certain uses of your Spruce debit card and Accounts. See for details.

2 Early access to funds depends on the timing of the payer’s submission of the payment. These funds are generally made available to you the day the payment instruction is received, which may be up to 2 days earlier than the payer’s scheduled payment date. To be eligible, you must receive $200 in direct deposits over the relevant 35-day period, not including tax refunds.

3 Spruce Rewards are powered by Dosh. Cash back offers and amounts may vary by user, merchant location and offer period. Check the Spruce app for offer availability. Cash back earned by qualifying purchases will be deposited in your Spruce Savings Account. See Spruce Rewards powered by Dosh Terms for details.