Breaking down back-to-school shopping, plus how to save money on supplies


On Tuesday, Aug. 8, thousands of public school students across the state will go back to school.

That means lots of folks will be hitting the stores for back-to-school shopping before then.

So how much will it cost for all those school supplies, and how can you save some money?

If your child is in elementary school, you’ve probably received a school supply list.

We picked up two actual lists from a school here in Hawaii to work off of — one for kindergarten, the other for 6th grade.

Then we compared prices from stores like Walmart, Target, and Fisher Hawaii to find the cheapest prices to get an idea of just how much it will all cost.

Let’s start with kindergarten: Crayons, pencils, glue, and composition books. Kindergarten can be messy, so you’ve also got soap, diaper wipes, and disinfecting wipes.

We added up the prices and you’re looking at spending about $45 on school supplies for your little one.

That’s not including a backpack, which can cost anywhere from $10 to $60 or more, depending on the brand or how fancy it is.

The 6th grade list is a lot shorter, but it also has a couple of pricier items, like a Hawaiian-English dictionary, scotch tape, and lots of binders.

When we crunched the numbers, you’re looking at spending about $42 on school supplies for your 6th-grader.

Sure that may not seem like a lot, but those amounts are just for one child.

If you’ve got four kids and they all need new backpacks, you’re looking at spending around $250 or more, along with new clothes for the new school year.

The National Retail Federation says households will spend about $230 on back-to-school clothing and accessories, and a total of $688 for everything back-to-school related.

Now for the important part: how to save.

First, compare prices. Get out those weekly ads. A few cents saved here and there can really add up.

That goes with our next tip and that’s price matching. Target will match the prices on its website if you’re shopping in the store.

At Fisher Hawaii, you can bring in the printed ad of a competitor and Fisher will match or beat that price.

Another tip, reuse what you can. Good backpacks will last for years. Things like rulers and scissors can always be passed down. If there’s anything your child didn’t use last school year, no need to buy a new one.

Finally, don’t forget to stock up on supplies while everything’s on sale.

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