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Bottom Line Up Front

  • Back-to-school shopping may be an expense you expect every year, but it doesn't have to make a huge dent in your budget. 
  • Coupon sites and apps offer discounts, but don’t shy away from used or consignment stores for good prices.
  • Earn extra points and cash back when you shop with a rewards credit card and at hundreds of popular stores through Navy Federal Credit Union Member Deals.

Time to Read

3 minutes

August 1, 2022

Shopping for back-to-school supplies or college student essentials can be a tough assignment. Items for the new school year may not be expensive, but they sure can add up at checkout.

Before school starts, check out these reminders about how to save on backpacks, binders and much more. 

  1. Supercharge your savings with online shopping. Our first stop is Navy Federal Member Deals.1  Navy Federal credit cardholders can enjoy online Member Deals at more than 950 popular stores—such as Apple®, Walmart®, Target® and Staples®—and get extra points or cash back. Beyond regular rewards, you can earn up to 15 points or 15%  cash back for every dollar you spend with your Navy Federal Credit Card. Plus, you’ll have access to exclusive special offers, alerts and deals of the week, saving you even more at popular retailers. 
  2. Stick to your shopping list—AND your budget. At back-to-school time, impulse buys can often lead to overspending. We’ve all been there. One great solution? Pledge to buy only what’s on the school supply list. Tracking your spending also helps you stay the course. Navy Federal has made it simple with our mobile app.* You may also pick up fewer random items by checking your tally on the app along the way. Amazon™ is easy and convenient, but stop by your local dollar store or discount grocer first to see what you can check off on the list.
  3. Not everything has to be brand-new. “Shop” your stash of school supplies from last year for an extra lunchbox, perfectly good crayons and other essentials. Raid your home office supplies for paper clips and binders. Talk to your kids about reusing a few older items to help the family save money.
  4. Try coupon sites and apps. You’re probably price-matching and eyeing back-to-school sales, but experiment with coupon sites and apps as well. Honey™,® and RetailMeNot® provide discount codes you can use at checkout when you’re shopping online. 
  5. Take advantage of your credit card points. Redeem points on a rewards credit card to purchase school supplies and reduce spending. Back-to-school season is a good time to check where you can earn the most points and maximize your  rewards. Navy Federal members can redeem points for cash, merchandise or gift cards. 
  6. Try consignment shops and social media groups. Searching for gently used items at resale shops and sites like eBay® or neighborhood marketplace groups could save you a lot of money. 
  7. Shop on tax-free days. Almost 20 states held tax-free holidays in 2021. Consider waiting to buy clothes and school supplies until you can do it without paying sales tax. Check your state's website to find out if it participates in tax-free shopping days.
  8. Buy quality items for the long term. Sometimes it's better to spend a little extra to get better quality and longer lasting use. A good quality backpack for your high schooler could last all 4 years and into college.
  9. Save up for shopping. If you have kids, back-to-school shopping is a given. How about setting aside a little bit each month into a dedicated savings account? You'll feel better next year, when you already have the necessary purchases covered.
  10. Watch for sales. Keep an eye out for off-season and clearance sales. Buying a winter coat in spring in a larger size could save you money next winter. Some department stores offer dollar-off coupons when you spend a certain amount. Keep track of the coupons and earmark them for back-to-school clothes and supplies.

Now that you’re ready to strategize for this year’s back-to-school shopping, consider how you may save even more by combining multiple options. For example, you might shop through Member Deals with your rewards credit card and add a coupon code—maybe even on a tax-free holiday.  

Remember—fortune favors the prepared. Take these tips with you as you load up on school goods!

Next Steps Next Steps

  1. Take a look at your child’s school supply list and determine what you need to budget for. Use our Monthly Spending Calculator to see how much money you’re able to set aside. 
  2. Do a supply sweep around the house and see if there’s anything from last year you can repurpose for the upcoming school year.


1Program excludes Navy Federal Business and Home Equity Line Visa® Platinum credit cards and Navy Federal Debit Cards. Rewards are subject to change and vary by merchant. Reward types will be based on the member's purchasing credit card. cashRewards cardholders will receive cash back. Platinum cardholders will receive a statement credit, and all others will receive points.

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This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.