Back to school on a budget: Check off your school supply list with these affordable essentials

Affordable school supplies and other budget choices

The school year is upon us, and there’s no better time to start checking items on your school supply list than now. Finding affordable school supplies can be a hassle, but with an understanding of the supplies you need, you can probably find all of your needs at a fair price.

From pens and pencils to planners, notebooks and more, getting ready for back to school doesn’t have to be stressful or break the bank.

Choose your essential school supplies

Student’s age and class

Perhaps the biggest factors in your school supply list are the student’s age, grade, and grades. For example, glue is a great option for elementary and middle school students who are likely to do arts and crafts. Older students might benefit from more versatile tools, such as laptops, tablets, or other smart devices. Also, a student taking specific classes, such as art or dance, may need more specific materials than what you’ll find on a school supply list.

School supply options to fit your budget

Most school supply lists include several different items students are expected to have. These costs can add up quickly, although there are several ways to stick to your budget. If you know the student will be using certain disposable items, such as pencils, pens, crayons, or erasers, for more than one school year, you can buy them in bulk to save year after year. Otherwise, consider looking for deals on student essentials.

Choose your student’s essentials

What constitutes “back to school essentials” can vary from student to student, and if they’re too old for basic school supply lists, it may be up to you. A few agreed upon essentials are backpacks, pens and pencils, notebooks and binders. However, this may depend on your student’s course and may include things ranging from cameras to musical instruments and more.

The best back-to-school supplies on a budget

Ticonderoga Pre-Sharpened Graphite Pencils, Yellow #2, 30-Pack

Pencils are essential school supplies, whatever the age of the student. These number two pencils fit most people’s budget and write with the standard lightness used in most schools. They include a useful eraser on the end which is perfect for math, writing, drawing and other subjects. Sold by Amazon

Best Paper Mate InkJoy 100RT Medium Point Ultra Smooth Ink Pens

Paper Mate InkJoy 100RT Medium Point Ultra Smooth Ink Pens

These pens are very affordable when bought in bulk and they write very easily compared to most other pens. You can buy these pens in assorted color or black packs, in packs of 12 or 20. Sold by Amazon

Best Crayola 24-Pack of Long Barrel Colored Wood Crayons

Crayola Colored Wood Crayons, Long Barrel, 24-Pack

These colored pencils from Crayola are the industry standard, featuring colors such as red, yellow, blue, white, and black, among many more. They are pre-sharpened and are made from all non-toxic materials. Sold by Amazon

Best Collection of Crayola Ultimate Crayons 152-Pack with Assorted Colors

Crayola 152-Pack Ultimate Crayon Collection with Assorted Colors

The price of this huge pack of pencils is impressive. It also comes with a pencil sharpener and a useful carrying cart that makes coloring time easier. You can buy this pencil set in a bundle with a twist pencil pack for a bit more money. Sold by Amazon

Best JanSport Student Backpack with 15 Inch Laptop Compartment

JanSport Student Backpack with 15″ Laptop Compartment

This backpack is great for books and other supplies, and it also has a mesh pocket to hold water bottles and a 15-inch laptop compartment. You can buy this option in several different colors and styles, each with JanSport’s signature S-straps with 14.5-inch adjustable shoulder drops. Sold by Amazon

Best Fiskars Kids 5 Inch Pointed Tip Safety Scissors in Random Colors

Fiskars Safety Scissors for Children 5 Inch Pointed Tip in Random Colors

Scissors are another must-have for preschool and K-8 students, and this particular pair is extremely affordable and made blunt for safety. They come in a random color, red, blue, light blue or green. This option also comes with a full lifetime warranty, according to the product description. Sold by Amazon

Best Retractable Purple Glue Sticks for Kids Gorilla Kids

Gorilla Kids Retractable Purple Glue Sticks

For students involved in arts and crafts, glue sticks are a necessity. These vanishing purple glue sticks are ideal for visual projects, offering strong adhesive in two simple six-packs. Sold by Amazon

Best Paper Mate 12 Large Classic Pink Pearlescent Pencil Eraser Set

Paper Mate 12 Large Classic Pink Pearlescent Pencil Eraser Pack

If a student plans to work in pencil often, another useful tool to keep handy is an eraser. Although most pencils include an eraser, these provide a backup when those tiny erasers in your pencil run out. Sold by Amazon

Best Black PowerMe Electric Pencil Sharpener for #2 Pencils

PowerMe Black Electric Pencil Sharpener for No. 2 Pencils

If you plan to use a pencil, you will also need a pencil sharpener. This electric pencil sharpener is battery powered and provides a long lasting sharpener. You can buy this electric pencil sharpener in black, blue, green, pink, purple or white. Sold by Amazon

Best Emraw Set of Four Books 100 Sheets Black and White Marble Style Cover

Emraw Set of Four 100 Sheet Black and White Composition Books with Marble Style Cover

Composition notebooks are a classic lined paper option to use for taking notes or working on assignments. These ruled composition books come with four units, and you can buy them in black and white or assorted colors. Sold by Amazon

Best Blue Sky 2022-2023 Wirebound Flexible Academic Year Planner Weekly and Monthly

Blue Sky Flexible Weekly and Monthly Planner 2022-2023

Academic planners are essential for older kids, and this flexible planner offers weekly and monthly schedule planning. You can purchase this planner in sizes 8.5 by 11 inches, 7 by 9 inches, or 5 by 8 inches. Sold by Amazon

Best Apple iPad Air 10.9-inch Purple Fifth Generation 2022 with Wi-Fi

Apple iPad Air 10.9 inch purple fifth generation 2022 with Wi-Fi

Tablets aren’t exactly cheap, but with Apple offering more budget options than ever, they can be a great laptop alternative for older students. You can buy iPad Air with 64 or 256 GB of storage, with Wi-Fi, or a Wi-Fi and cellular plan. It is also available in purple, blue, pink, space gray and starlight. Sold by Amazon

Best Acer Aspire 5 15.6 inch Full Screen Slim Laptop with AMD Ryzen 5 CPU

Acer Aspire 5 15.6 inch Full Screen Slim Laptop with AMD Ryzen 5 Processor

The Acer Aspire 5 is a powerful laptop at a fair price, with a powerful processor and several bundled options to maximize your purchase. It also includes 8GB of DDR4 RAM for multitasking and up to 11 hours of battery life without a charger. Sold by Amazon

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Peter McGuthrie writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their buying decisions, saving them time and money.

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