How to Prep for Going Back to School

Jun 5, 2019

Whether you're a college student, high school student, or even the parent of a younger student, you know how frustrating back to school season can be. There seem to be endless requirements that become more expensive every year, and it can be overwhelming to think about what you need, much less actually buy it all. This year, take some steps to reduce that back to school stress. Use this guide to breeze through the back to school season and get everything on your list.

1. Write a List

Don't cobble together a list the week before school starts. Start writing your list early, ideally as soon as school is out. Create a list of some things that were necessary throughout the year, so you're not scrambling to remember as back to school season approaches.

Anytime you think of something, add it to the list. When your professor tells you that you need certain supplies, or your child’s teacher lets you know about specific things, add it to the list. By building your list early and maintaining it over the break, you’ll be able to more effectively tackle back to school shopping once it comes time to actually make those purchases.

2. Sort Items by Retailer

This is something that many people overlook, but it can save you literally hours of time. Take your list and group items by merchant. Group retailers by the products they sell to save even more time.

  • Put all the school supplies in one section. Pens, pencils, notebooks, and paper can all be found at office supply stores such as Office Depot and Staples.
  • If your children need backpacks and general supplies, Target can be a great fit, as it tends to bridge the gap between high quality and low price.
  • There are all sorts of places to buy clothes: fashion-forward teens can go to Journeys, kids can get outfits at The Children’s Place, families can try Old Navy, and trendy college students can dress head to toe in Aeropostale.

Don’t be afraid to go to multiple stores that sell similar items; that’s the best way to get a good deal.

3. Take Your List with You

When you write your lists, they can be on paper or electronic. Some people choose to use electronic options, such as the notes app on their phone, to keep track of what they still need to get, while others prefer the old-fashioned way. No matter how you do it, it's important to keep your list with you as back to school season approaches. Here are some good ways to use your list on the go:

  • Get a personalized notebook so you can feel fashionable carrying your list around. Personalization Mall allows you to customize your items with whatever you want, including images and text.
  • Think about other places you can get items. If you’re at Target and see a nice shirt that catches your eye, but you remember seeing the same shirt at Walmart, mark it down on your list. Company apps can be helpful here, as they often have lists of their items and prices.

4. Plan Your Shopping Trips Strategically

There are two different ways to shop during the back to school season. You can go to certain retailers intentionally to buy your back to school items, or you can lump those trips in with general shopping trips.

The first option tends to be better if you don't shop at that specific retailer very frequently:

  • If your college graduate needs decor from Home Depot, but you don’t often visit home improvement stores, you’ll need to block out a special trip just for that.
  • Sometimes, getting a fashionable outfit means taking a trip to a clothing retailer that you don’t usually visit. If you’re used to getting clothes from Old Navy, block out a special trip to get your child’s nicer outfits at Macy’s.

The second option is geared toward retailers you were already going to visit:

  • If you decide to get a variety of your back to school items at Sam's Club, a retailer you already visit biweekly for groceries, make time to also go through and check off all the back to school items you need.
  • For the most clothing items at the lowest prices, visit a general retailer such as Walmart. You can also pick up other back to school supplies at the same time.

5. Incorporate Both Online and Physical Shopping

For most people, physical shopping is king when it comes to back to school shopping. However, much of your shopping can just as easily be done online, and it may even save you time and money. Online stores often have back to school coupons, and you may be able to stack those coupons with back to school sales. When you make your lists early, you get to make a genuine choice; you don't have to buy in a physical store or pay for expedited shipping, so your items come in time.


It's not that hard to prepare for the back to school season as long as you know how to do it. By planning early and using plenty of back to school coupons, you can get all the supplies you or your children need to succeed.

Trending Back to School Advice

How to Find the Best Backpacks for Students

Jun 5, 2019

Finding a backpack is an incredibly important part of preparing for the new school year. Do you know what to do if you want the best backpack in 2019?

A Guide to the Perfect Back to School Wardrobe

Jun 5, 2019

This back to school season, you're probably going to have to buy some new clothes. Do you know what you need to create the perfect back to school wardrobe?

2019 Back to School Sales - How to Get the Most Savings

Jun 5, 2019

Get the most out of back to school sales by following expert shopping tips. Making a list, shopping early, using other sales and other advice to save huge money preparing for the school year

Where to Buy School Supplies

Jun 5, 2019

Get the right supplies from the right stores and save money when shopping for back to school. Do you know what essential school supplies you should be buying?

See All Articles

Best Deals for Back to School

See All Deals

Back to School Featured Stores

See All Stores