9 Ways to Get Help with Back to School Supplies

Did you realize that the average parent spends over $100 per child each year on back to school supplies? If you have a child in elementary, middle, or high school and are on a tight budget, this figure may be overwhelming, especially if you have more than one kid.

Fortunately, you can get financial help with back to school supplies, as well as backpacks and clothing. Here are nine ways you can save money on them and ensure your child has everything they need for the upcoming school year.


Ask Friends and Family

Let your friends and family members know that your son or daughter is in need of school supplies. They may have some extra pencils and notebooks laying around the house and be willing to share them with your child or outgrown clothes from older children. If they own a business, they might be able to donate supplies that they purchased for their business.


Talk to Your School

School districts know that school supply lists can be expensive. Speak to your school administrator and find out whether they can provide back to school supplies for your child. While you may have to show some documentation such as your pay stubs or tax returns and fill out some forms, the school district is often prepared to help out those in need so that every child is ready on day 1.


Contact Local Charities

Reach out to the food bank in your area to find out which charities collect school supplies for children in need. They’ll likely be able to point you toward organizations that can provide you with free school supplies for your child. Keep in mind that you may need to register or prove financial need in order to take advantage of these free school supplies from local charities.


Search Personal Marketplaces Online

Several marketplace websites give anyone the chance to post descriptions of items they’d like to give away for free. Check them out on a regular basis to see if anyone is offering to give away free pencils, paper, and other school supplies. If you do find free school supplies on these sites or any other online source, be careful when making arrangements to pick them up and consider meeting up at your local police station.


Look for BOGO Sales

Many retailers that sell school supplies host buy one get one free (BOGO) sales in August and September for back to school supplies. Find out when these sales will be happening and use coupons to maximize your savings when shopping them. You can also pair up with another parent, purchase two of every item, and split the cost to make the most out of BOGO sales.


Search for Backpack Drives

Many Advance America locations host backpack drives to provide families in our communities with back to school supplies. A backpack drive can provide your child with a free backpack filled with notebooks, pencils, binders, and a variety of other school supplies. To find a full list of drives near you, visit local TV and radio station websites of television and radio stations.


Go to the Dollar Store, Thrift Store, and Garage Sales

There’s no reason you need to purchase all school supplies from an expensive office supply store. You can buy plenty of back to school supplies like scissors and pencil boxes at the dollar store, while thrift stores can get your child styled to make an impression on his or her first day. Keep your eyes out for garage sales, where families are eager to rid them house of last year’s school supplies.


Take Advantage of Tax-Free Weekends

Several states are having tax-free weekends this summer. If you’re lucky enough to live in a state with a tax-free weekend, use those three days to purchase school supplies, clothes, backpacks, and anything else your child may need for her or his first day of school. Check out the table below to find out whether your state made the cut:

State2019 Dates
AlabamaJuly 19 - 21
Florida*August 2 - 4
IowaAugust 2 - 3
Mississippi*July 26 - 27
Missouri*August 2 - 4
OhioAugust 2 - 4
Oklahoma*August 2 - 4
South Carolina*August 2 - 4
TennesseeJuly 26 - 28
TexasAugust 9 - 11
VirginiaAugust 2 - 4
Wisconsin*July 31 - August 4

Note: States marked with an asterisk (*) are not yet confirmed at the time of publishing.


Take Out a Small Loan

Taking out a small loan can help you pay for back to school supplies, especially if more expensive supplies are required for learning. At Advance America, we offer short-term, small-dollar loans that you may not be able to find at a bank or another financial institution. You can work with our knowledgeable staff to determine the ideal loan product for your budget and lifestyle.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways you can get help with back to school supplies. With some planning and creativity, you can ensure your child’s school supply list doesn’t take a toll on your finances.

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