Save money on back-to-school supplies


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The summer heatwaves are coming to an end, and you know what that means: the first day of school is approaching.

Thousands of students across the Commonwealth will return to class during the first weeks of August. While the official “first day” varies from district to district, one back-to-school experience is universal: finding school supplies.

What would you like to know

  • Kentucky students return to class in early August
  • With school supply lists in mind, it can be difficult to figure out how to save money where you can.
  • Reuse and reuse supplies is a sustainable way to save time and money
  • Be sure to monitor in-store and online sales before purchasing much-needed supplies

Whether it’s backpacks, satchels, clothes or shoes, back to school shopping can get expensive. If you want to avoid spending a pretty penny on pens and pencils, here are some handy tips and helpful links to take the strain off your wallet.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

Perhaps the best way to save money on school supplies is to not spend any money at all. This may not always be doable, but thinking about school supplies in a sustainable way can support many key items that you or your child might need.

Backpacks are one of the easiest school necessities to reuse because they don’t need to be purchased every year. (File photo)

Not all school supplies have to be purchased every year, especially if you’ve purchased a sturdy, well-made backpack. Reusing last year’s backpack, binders, or shirts is a great way to save money.

  • If your child’s backpack has seen better days, try cleaning it with rubbing alcohol or repairing any major damage.
  • Stickers can also be used to cover small spots or tears on binders and folders, plus they allow for some personalization and expression.

Supplies like pens, pencils, scissors and markers are often easier to reuse. When it comes to notebooks and paper supplies, it’s always a good idea to save unused sheets.

  • Keep them all organized – and try not to lose them – and let your little one learn to use them with longevity. Try to use each pencil right down to the eraser!
  • Remove any unused pages from old notebooks and add them to a three-ring binder like makeshift loose-leaf paper.

In addition to backpacks and notebooks, water bottles should be considered in your mission of sustainable school supplies. Buying a reusable water bottle or Hydro Flask can reduce plastic waste while encouraging your child to stay hydrated in class.

When it comes to back-to-school technology, especially in the COVID-19 era, expensive electronics can be a necessity. Some schools may provide computers for students for distance learning. If your child has a dedicated learning device, taking good care of it and maximizing its lifespan offers a great return on investment.

Track sales

Of course, not all supplies can be recycled or reused, so buying rampant school supplies is often unavoidable. Before you check out the nearest store or website, however, consider all of your options and which stores have big sales.

Colored pencils are a staple on most school supply lists. (File photo)

If you’re looking to spruce up your family’s back-to-school wardrobe, there are plenty of local retailers with great deals on clothing.

The technology doesn’t have to be expensive either. Retail giants often offer big price cuts on laptops until the school year.

Don’t sleep on donations

Back-to-school supplies drives take place all around the Bluegrass. If you have a student who needs supplies, don’t hesitate to reach out to the community.

Louisville Catholic Charities, the YMCA of Central KY, Welcome House Northern Kentucky, and Stuff the Bus SOKY are just a few of the participating community organizations.

As students prepare to return to class this school year, the Y, in partnership with Fayette County Public …

Posted by YMCA of Central Kentucky on Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Do you have any other tips for saving money for the start of the school year? Let us know what we missed by emailing us at

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