Northshore Mama’s Tips on Getting Back to School Deals!

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I know, I know … some of you don’t want to see those three words. Especially those of you who are teachers. But, the truth is, the day is drawing near and that time is upon us. It’s an expensive time of year for many. Luckily, I have learned a few things in the 6 years I have had to do this and I usually stay below $20 per child.

Some schools require you to buy their pre-packaged supplies. But my school charges $45 for this, and I just told you that I have not spent $20 yet on one kid. So, if you have the option, AVOID THAT!

Here are some other tips that may help you save some money on this mandatory expense.

Follow my Back to School Deals Event!

I post everything that I can remotely connect to Back to School in this event. Backpacks, school supplies, shoes, uniforms, etc. Any deal I find, I post it in this event. That way, you don’t miss it if the Facebook gods decide you don’t want to see it in my regular newsfeed.

Use Your Couponing Skills

Don’t be afraid to look for deals and stack savings on school supplies just like you would on groceries or anything else. We have seen some FABULOUS stacks in the past years and some even better freebies! Coupons and rebate companies know that it is “Back to School Season,” and they offer savings on that category, too!

I am expecting to see this recurring FREE PAPER TOWELS deal at CVS (link is to last year, just as an example) any day now!

We have also seen FREE GLUE STICKS in the past, as well as multiple items like 3 FREE FOLDERS with just one coupon! (links are to old deals as an example)

Now, the best place to do this I have found is Target. Target seems to have the best prices in general. Walmart isn’t bad and often, they have a better selection of those really bit-picky items on the list. Office Depot has some great deals, and last year we saw awesome sales at Big Lots.

But, Target always has fabulous prices on school supplies and will more than likely have coupons on their website, some Cartwheel offers to go with them, and maybe a few more layers to stack. So, it’s my one stop shop suggestion!

***All of these links are to old posts and those deals are not current. That means that we haven’t seen the best of this year, yet! So, keep watching for these awesome coupon deals!

Don’t Be Afraid to Stockpile, Donate or Buy for the Next Grade

Most schools have the supply list online now and you can see ALL the grades. So, if you find a fabulous deal on crayons, where they are, say $0.25 per box or EVEN FREE (again, old links as examples), then you could check your list for next year’s grade and stock up now! I haven’t bought crayons in a couple years because I got a pile of them when these deals were available.

So, even if you have bought everything you need, and you come across a great deal or freebie, grab it and stash it away for next year! **tip – If you KNOW that you won’t remember that in a year, put a reminder in your phone for next July 15th or so to look in the closet for school supplies!

Another idea for the great deals if you are done with your lists … or if you aren’t lucky enough to buy school supplies yet, DONATE THEM! There are lots of school supply drives if you ask around your community. Check with your local Fire Department or the schools themselves. I would hate to see a kid at school that didn’t have crayons if I knew I had a pile in my closet that I paid nothing for.

Don’t Be Afraid to Shop Online

Last year, we got a KILLER deal at One subject notebooks that were $0.25 at Walmart and Target were just $0.17 on Staples (yep – old link as an example). That price included shipping! That may not sound like a big difference, but it actually is a savings of 32% and I don’t know many lists that list only one notebook! You have to think about unit price even if the difference is just a few pennies! 32% is a big discount!

If you think buying 19 notebooks just to get them shipped to your door for $0.17 is not necessary … (PS – Walmart has one subject notebooks this year for $0.17! Lowest price I have seen yet.)

Think Outside the Uniform

I shared this tip last year in my July post. Don’t limit yourself to the “uniform section” of the store. I often find solid khaki shorts that are cheaper than the ones on the table with the big BACK TO SCHOOL signs. Because they aren’t considered a uniform piece, they are not a popular item that will be priced higher at “peak season”.

So, look for solid colored pieces that are good enough to be uniforms, even if that store doesn’t call them that.

Spend More to Spend Less

This one is tricky. But, I have two little boys who are pretty rough on things like backpacks. Zippers break, holes appear from nowhere allowing school supplies to vanish into thin air.

So, instead of spending $20 on a new backpack that I may have to replace before Christmas, and most definitely will replace by next August … I splurged this year and bought LL Bean backpacks.

Did you know that they offer a Lifetime Warranty? How did I not know this?!?!?


So, I found a bag normally priced around $40, but was marked down to $29.96. I also signed up for LLBean’s email and got a coupon for $10 off $50. Two of these bags came in right at $60 before that coupon.

That’s a great deal in itself … but I am a savings blogger! I can’t stop there!

I used my Swagbucks (which I shared with you a few years ago) to purchase an LLBean $50 Gift Card.BAM! – Two LL Bean Backpacks. FREE! And with a lifetime warranty!

But, did I mention that I was a savings blogger and couldn’t stop there? It’s free, but … I could get cash back, too!LL Bean bags

I then went through Ebates (which I shared with you a few years ago) for the actual purchase and got 2% cash back on the bags. (If you are new to Ebates, you can choose a $10 gift card with your first purchase making this bag just $19.96 if you count that gift card. And in couponing, when finding your total cost … you count the gift card!)

AND THEY LOVE THEM! This deal is still available and I explain it more on my blog HERE. Spending a tad bit more this year will hopefully save me from buying another backpack for at least a FEW years! (They do have other prints than camo and plenty of solids to choose from. **sigh … so over the camo.)

I hope that these tips will help you defer some of the cost this year. Have you started Back to School shopping yet?

About Northshore Mama

Kari Head ShotKari, born and raised on the Northshore, began Northshore Mama after her family experienced a couple of rough financial years. Kari shares the tips and tricks to maneuvering each store’s different marketing of their sales, as well as introducing her readers to various programs and websites where she earns free stuff every day. Northshore Mama’s mission is to bring you the coupon deals and show you how to match them up with each store’s weekly sales to get the most bang for your buck!


  1. I love this! I’m a teacher and I usually use many of these deals to stock up on classroom supplies.
    I will warn parents about the uniform savings. Where I teach, we require a certain type/style of khakis. So, before you buy the shorts that are no labeled “back to school” double check the uniform policy.


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