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Back to School Money Saving Tips

This can be an expensive season for families, but here are some tips to help you cut costs


Americans are expected to spend more than ever on back-to-school supplies, but there are tips you can follow to help save you money. 

This time of year can be so exciting for kids and families alike! The hustle and bustle in the hallways and the ring of the school bell can usher in good memories, excitement for a fresh start, and new opportunities as students head back to the classroom. It can also be an extremely expensive and stressful season for many families. 

According to the National Retail Federation, U.S. shoppers will spend $37 billion this back-to-school season, matching last year’s record. Individual households will average $864 to send their child back to school. 


Back-to-school time doesn’t usually get the focus and guidance on budgeting it deserves and as compared to other seasonal spending trends. If you’ve found yourself with unexpected expenses, or a shopping list that’s longer than you thought it would be, follow these tips to saving on back-to-school items:


Look Around at Home First

When reviewing your shopping list, take inventory of what you might already have around the house. It’s good practice to organize office and art supplies in different piles so you can get a good look at what you own that’s already on the list. 

Chances are, there’s an old back pack laying around (and your teen might love it as vintage!). Do you own leftover school supplies from last year? We bet your kid has about a dozen boxes of mix and match crayons laying around. Combine them to complete a new set for to take on the first day of school! If you’re resourceful with what you already own, that will save you money this fall.

Ask the Teacher if You Need Everything NOW.

School supplies lists are longer than ever and there might be some interesting requests. If you need to spread out purchases, ask the teacher what items on the list will be needed right away and which ones won’t be needed until later. This is a great way to keep an eye out for sales, plan your budget, and cut your spending. 

Compare Prices and Stack Discounts

Whether you’re shopping in store or online, giving yourself time to compare prices will save you money in the long run, even if the coupon clipping and sales watching might be time consuming. Study the sales, clip your coupons, and combine all of those methods to save. 

There are plenty of great sales to take advantage of this time of year but doing your research instead of rushing will also save you money. Waiting to buy is also smart: Winter clothes tend to go on sale after school starts. And remember! Major retailers, including Target, Walmart and Kohl’s, will price match against most competitors. Don’t forget to ask for student discounts! Every little bit helps — and you get bonus points if you put those savings into a savings account. 

Take Advantage of the State Sales Tax Holiday

Save money on back-to-school supplies by taking advantage of the Illinois sales tax holiday that runs through Aug. 14. In Wisconsin, it runs from Aug. 13-14. 

Most supplies, including back packs, binders, pens, pencils, new shoes, and clothes are all included in the sales tax holiday. 

Consider a Personal Loan

If price tags are giving you sticker shock, consider taking out a personal loan from Rock Valley Credit Union. Our interest rates are likely lower than the credit cards in your wallet, and a personal loan will ensure your child has all of their essentials on the first day of school. A low interest rate, easy payments, and a backpack full of notebooks waiting to be written in is all you need to start the school year off right!


Apply for  personal loan now!