Updated August 2, 2018: Parents with school-age children usually spend a pretty penny on gear for the new school year. In fact, the National Retail Federation estimates back-to-school expenses will cost the average family $684.79 this year.
If you want to save money, buy used or skip not-so-necessary supplies, like a new lunch box and backpack. Take advantage of sales, deals and freebies, too. Here’s a list of some of the more notable ones.
Shopping deals/freebies for families
Microsoft Office 360
Teachers and students can get Office 360 Education, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Microsoft Teams, for free with a valid school email address.
The computer software company also offers free apps and tools for parents, students and educators covering subjects such as chemistry, photography and math.
Apple is giving away a free pair of Beats headphones with the purchase of an eligible Mac or iPad for college through Sept. 25.
A six-month Amazon Prime membership
College-bound students can get a free six-month trial of Prime Student, Amazon’s free shipping-and-streaming service. After that, Prime Student costs $6.49. You can cancel anytime or you can use these 15 Amazon hacks to recoup the price of membership.
You Need a Budget subscription
The popular budgeting app offers all students a free 12-month subscription (normally $6.99 a month). To get yours, email firstname.lastname@example.org with proof of enrollment, including a student ID card, transcript or tuition statement. Check out [our review of You Need a Budget] to learn how it works.
The following retailers are offering free shipping to your home on select online orders in honor of the back-to-school shopping season:
- Crayola: Free shipping on orders of $50 or more
- Dick’s Sporting Good: Free shipping on orders of $49 or more
- JCPenney’s: Free shipping on orders of $99 or more
- Jet.com: Free shipping on orders of $35 or more
- Kmart: Free shipping on orders of $35 or more
- Kohl’s: Free shipping on orders of $75 or more
- Macy’s: Free shipping on order of $49 or more
- Office Depot and Office Max: Free shipping on orders of $35 or more in select areas
- Sears: Free shipping on orders of $35 or more
- Tom’s: Free shipping on orders of $59 or more
Free shipping deals are subject to change and may vary, depending on location.
Buy a Lenovo PC student bundle (starting at around $1,100) and you’ll get a $100 voucher from Southwest airlines.
Remember, exclusions and caveats to any deal may apply. Terms are also subject to change, so check the fine print for full details before ordering.
For families & teachers
Scholastic offers a broad selection of free printables to help families and teachers stay organized in the new school year. Resources include bookmarks, stationery, games, lists and a daily lesson planner.
Supplemental math lessons
Scholastic Books also offers an online math learning program geared toward students grades K-8. Students can learn about math and financial responsibility via real-world scenarios and simulations while also having fun.
Free lesson plans
The following organizations offer free lesson plans to teachers.
- Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center offers film kits, printable posters, lesson plans and other resources for covering understanding, diversity and prejudice in an inclusive learning environment.
- Scholastic offers free lesson plans, posters, fact sheets and student activity suggestions aimed at helping teachers distinguish fact from fiction when it comes to illicit drugs and their effects on the mind and body.
- VocabularySpellingCity offers lesson plans that can help students broaden their vocabulary and improve their reading comprehension. K-12 teachers or parents can use these resources.
Crayola offers free art lesson plans, along with free coloring pages teachers and parents can print out for their kids all year round.
Colgate dental hygiene kit
Teachers can request free printable guides, classroom videos, activities and a dental hygiene kit with sample Colgate toothbrushes and toothpaste for 25 students.
For families in need of financial assistance
Operation Homefront Back-to-School Brigade
This operation distributes backpacks with school supplies to tens of thousands of children of military members each year. If you’re a military family and need help covering supplies for your children, you can sign up to attend one of the organization’s events.
Salvation Army school supplies
The Salvation Army gathers donated school supplies for families in need each year. If you need help covering the costs of back-to-school this year, the Salvation Army’s blog offers information on how to contact your local chapter to ask for assistance.
You can also save by shopping for supplies on back-to-school sales tax-free holidays. Parents can get a break in these states.