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Back to School Shopping Tips

By Krystal Yang

Back to school season is upon us. But back to school shopping can cause stress even before school starts. I have compiled some advice for fellow students to ease the task of shopping.


  1. Have a list: Always go back to school shopping armed with a list. A list is your best weapon to use against overpriced items, under buying, and/or overbuying. Make sure you’re buying everything you need, but don’t get roped into getting materials that just look aesthetically pleasing. Ask yourself, do I really need three different planners? Do I really need two notebooks for each class? And if you really don’t know where to start with your shopping list, Google has got you back! With the internet, it’s really easy to find pre-made lists to prepare for the school year. You can even narrow down the supplies by grade level!


  1. Timing: Timing can be a very difficult thing to gauge when it comes to back to school shopping. Personally, I always make two shopping trips: one of them will be made a week before school starts, and one of them will be made one or two days after school actually starts. I don’t go back to school shopping really early, because I find that I tend to freak out and purchase way more than I really need. When I give myself time to actually whittle down my To-Buy List, I don’t end up spending money on things I don’t need. In the first trip, I pick up the basic items: pens, pencils, staplers, binder paper, notebooks, and folders. However, teachers will almost always make you buy materials that you don’t have at home. For example, my history teacher this year specifically made all his classes buy green binders. This is why I go shopping after school starts, to pick up these “miscellaneous” materials that I missed the first time.



  • The best shops to shop at: Surprisingly, from personal experience, I find that the cheapest school supplies aren’t actually from school supply stores. I tend to avoid huge retailers Staples and Office Depot, because even though they have the largest supply of items, they tend to overcharge. My go-to shops include Walmart, Daiso, and Dollar Tree. Target is also a great place to get organizational supplies, like shelves, cork boards, whiteboards, and trays.



  1. Buy in bulk: I always, always buy in bulk. Honestly, as a forgetful high school student, Iosing things has become part of my monthly school routine. You can save money by buying in bulk, and you’ll always have replacements if (or when) you lose your supplies.



  • Functionality first, aesthetic later: Seeing pictures of really creative, and colorful school supplies online always put pressure on buyers to get that cute stationary. However, these supplies are always extremely (and excessively, in my opinion) pricey. A great way to save money is to just purchase normal school supplies and then decorate them at home yourself with color paper, markets, washi tape, etc. There are many DIY school supply projects you can find online, too.

But aesthetic is still okay: Every year I go back to school shopping, I limit myself to three items that are “aesthetically pleasing”. I will usually end up with some sort of pretty calendar, journal, or folder. Sometimes having cute school supplies motivates me to use them and to do better in school; if that’s the case, then I definitely think it’s okay to spend a little extra money.

About Katherine Han

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