Buying School Supplies? 6 Money-Saving Hacks for Frugal Parents

Published: June 22, 2018 | Updated: April 21, 2021 | Posted by: Venus Zoleta | Personal Finance

Save Money on School Supplies |

Shopping for school supplies means different things to students and parents. Kids look forward to having new stuff when they go back to school, while their parents get all busy and stressed trying to provide everything needed for school.

This challenge gets all the more difficult, as school supplies get more expensive each year. Despite that, you can still stretch your tight budget for your back-to-school shopping. All you need are some practical strategies to save money on school supplies.

1. Reuse or Recycle Old Stuff

School Supplies - Reuse or Recycle |

Photo by Jimmie via Flickr, Creative Commons

Make an inventory of your children’s school supplies from last year. For sure, certain items are still in good condition, which means you don’t have to buy new ones. Check the bags, pencil cases, lunch boxes, scissors, rulers, etc. Sort those that can still be reused or recycled for another school year or two.

Here are some ideas to trim down your back-to-school expenses:

  • Recycle unused pages from old spiral notebooks. Remove clean sheets from their binding and sew them together to make a new notebook.
  • Refill old pens and markers. Instead of buying new writing tools, you can save money by buying refills.
  • Gather old pencils. As long as they aren’t broken, pencils just need to be sharpened, and they’re good to use again.
  • Don’t throw away school uniforms that no longer fit. Like bags and other school supplies, uniforms can be passed on from your panganay to bunso.
  • Swap old but usable school supplies with family and friends. This is a great way to get new supplies for your children without spending at all. For example, you can trade your kids’ extra bags with your niece’s (who’s about the same age as your child) hardly used school supplies.

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2. Plan Your List of School Supplies to Buy

After you’ve determined what supplies can be reused, list down everything you need to buy for each of your children. Make sure each list is complete and be specific about the type, quantity, and even color of every item.

It’s best to wait for the teacher’s school supplies list at the start of the school year and then integrate it with your own before you go shopping. Also, if you’ll buy supplies for two or more children, compile all shopping lists into one master list. Having just one list for buying school supplies can save you both time and money. No need to go back to a store to buy anything you’ve missed out. You’ll also avoid buying anything unnecessary.

3. Set a Budget Based on Your School Supplies List

School Supplies - Budget |

Instagram photo by @erjrocks

Once you have your list of things to buy, write down the estimated price of each item and get their total. This will help you come up with a realistic budget for your back-to-school shopping. If the total cost is more than what you can actually afford, you’ll have to make a few adjustments on your list.

You can check the Department of Trade and Industry’s Gabay sa Pamimili ng School Supplies for the complete list of suggested retail prices (SRPs) of school supplies in the Philippines. This DTI price guide is very helpful for parents because knowing the SRPs can help them avoid buying overpriced products.

4. Buy School Supplies in Bulk at Tiangges

School Supplies - Tiangge |

Instagram photo by @emzgorgeous

Flea markets or tiangges in Divisoria and Baclaran are the bargain hunters’ favorite shopping destinations[1], as they offer huge discounts of 10% to 50% for bulk purchases. Shoppers can also haggle to save more cash. No wonder these places get crowded every back-to-school season.

If you’ll buy school supplies for multiple children on a limited budget, go to these popular shopping districts in Metro Manila. They sell stuff at a lot cheaper prices than malls or department stores.

Tips on Buying School Supplies in Divisoria

  • Start your shopping early in the morning. Many sidewalk stalls in Divisoria open as early as 7 am, with some vendors offering bwena-mano discounts to their first customers of the day.
  • Focus on areas that provide the best deals. These include flea markets along Ylaya and Tabora Streets, around New Divisoria Mall, in 168 Mall, and in Divisoria Market.
  • Get your haggling game strong. As a Rappler report[2] notes, even an amount as small as 50 cents is worth the haggle.

Tips on Buying School Supplies in Baclaran

  • Shop at the Roxas Boulevard area. Many stalls inside the FPC Building sell affordable school supplies and uniforms. Go further down the road at J. Gabriel St. to buy cheaper uniforms.
  • Check out the stores near Baclaran LRT Station. Plenty of stores selling cheap supplies, bags, and uniforms can be found below the LRT station, across the Baclaran Super Mall, and at the corner of F. B. Harrison and Taft Ave. Extension.

5. Watch Out For Back-to-School Sales and Promos

School Supplies - Back-to-School Promos |

Instagram photo by @heyitschristian_15

If sweating it out in the crowded Divisoria or Baclaran isn’t your thing, you can instead buy school supplies on sale in an air-conditioned bookstore or department store.

Search for back-to-school sales that usually start in May and last until the end of July. If you have a credit card, you can use it when shopping for school supplies to avail of exclusive discounts and promos.

For instance, using a BPI credit card, debit card, or prepaid card will get you up to 30% off on selected school supplies in all National Bookstore branches until July 15, 2018.

When you buy school uniforms at The SM Store with a Metrobank credit card (except for ON Internet Mastercard and Dollar Mastercard) until July 31, 2018, you’ll get an e-gift certificate that can be redeemed at any The SM Store branch, Petron gas station, or Pancake House restaurant.

6. Buy Only High-Quality Supplies

School Supplies - High Quality |

Instagram photo by @redmarkable

To get the most value for your money when shopping for school supplies, compare not just prices but also sizes and quality[3]. You aren’t saving money if you keep on buying new bags or shoes because the old ones got easily worn out.

Make sure to buy only bags, shoes, and uniforms that fit your kids comfortably. The supplies must also be durable and will last at least for the whole school year. Even the small details like the notebook’s pages must be checked to ensure that the lines are correctly printed.

Final Thoughts

Your money will quickly go down the drain if you aren’t careful and strategic when it comes to school supplies shopping. For more back-to-school money management tips for parents, check this article from

Have any tips to share with your fellow parents on saving money when buying school supplies? Leave a comment below!
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