I just got the supply list for my son's class, and figured this year I would buy school supplies well in advanced instead of hustling through Walmart and Target 3 days before the first day of school.

Is it generally worth buying school supplies online, when it comes to price and time? If so, is Amazon pretty much the best bet in pricing?

(Looking for answers from people that have done it before and their opinion with regards to just buying it in person.)

  • I guess it depends on how much your time is worth.
    – DA01
    Jun 29 '11 at 19:51
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    "Worth it". Do you mean "is it cheaper"? Only you can determine if it's worth it. Worth is 100% subjective. Jul 1 '11 at 7:47
  • Yeah .. i prefer buying them online. we can get huge discounts if we use coupon codes etc., online .. i prefer buying online rather in person Sep 17 '14 at 12:23
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    Isn't this more of a personal-finance topic? It doesn't relate very much to parenting. Sep 18 '14 at 6:07

It seems your desire is to save money. I don't really know in general about comparing online vs. at the store. It seems as though things like pencils would be cheaper at the store since no shipping is required, but if you are buying textbooks or other reusable items, online and used can be a great money saver.

In terms of saving money, I would also recommend As a former teacher, Most of the supplies a day or two After school has started (At least in the States). Often the lists are published by the administration and include things the teachers would never have actually included on the list and that your child will not use.

Make sure your child has a binder (or filer), pens, pencils, erasers that work and some paper and something to keep it all in. Generally the first day or two are orientation to the class and don't result in a lot of work anyway. These basics will get your child through that first day just fine. Then, find out what the Teacher wants by looking through the paperwork that comes home. I would also encourage looking for anything major like laptops (I've taught at private schools that Did require these) or specialty items and tools that are sometimes required in the secondary grades ahead of time.

The extra advantage? Not only will you save by not purchasing supplies that aren't really needed, you will also get to take advantage of the clearance bins at the stores or online.

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    Just wanted to add, that if you know who your child's teacher is, you might try contacting them in advance to double-check the list. Or ask other parents who might have had the teacher before. Granted, the list might change, but big items (calculators for example) and specialty items probably won't.
    – Meg Coates
    Nov 21 '12 at 4:50
  • GREAT POINT MEG! Nov 21 '12 at 14:39
  • You're recommending to wait with the purchases, to avoid spending on unnecessary items. I think that's in the spirit of the question, but what about actually buying online, do you have an opinion on this to add to your answer? Nov 22 '12 at 16:41

There is nothing wrong with buying items online. You should be just as careful as buying stuff online as you are buying them in-person.

You may find that you have much, much more choices online than you do in store. You might be able to find stuff cheaper; however, do consider shipping charges. Depending on how much you're planning to buy, you will be eligible for free shipping.

Amazon is just as fine as any other place to start. You can also just google 'school supplies online' and see if you can find cheaper websites. Have you ever purchased anything online before?

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    Amazon prime if you'll use it a lot. One shipping charge per year. Jun 29 '11 at 15:40
  • Thanks Swati, I guess what I meant was if it was really worth it, assuming shipping came out free. I'll update/edit the question. Jun 29 '11 at 17:07

I can often find cheaper supplies online throughout the year, especially with Amazon Prime, but the door-busting deals at Staples and Walmart before school starts usually beat out any of the online sales that I can find, especially with the coupons available in August. You might get better deals on expensive items like computers and phones online.

As for the actual products, it depends on how picky you are. A pencil is a pencil but if you are particular about the texture of a folder you should probably buy it in person. There is barcode scanning mobile device software for Amazon and other services that can allow you to price compare and buy immediately.


Why not get them now? You can get a few items each week and not have the budget crunch in late August. And you can avoid the back-to-school craziness in the stores.

If you are seriously frugal (as I am), then I suspect not. I have found the best place to get the standard school supplies (pencils, pens, paper, notebooks, folders, etc.) is the local "dollar store" or equivalent. You could try eBay for the specialty items that you can't find in the dollar store.


If you want to save time and effort, buying online is a practical option. People who prefers to buy online doesn't want to spend hours walking around the mall, looking for the items they need. They also wants to save gasoline expenses and many others. When you buy online, you can select wide array of item in just a click in the mouse. You can also compare the prices easily. Amazon is a good choice when buying online because there are lots of good deals there. But sometimes I also look into the direct website of the supplier, sometimes they have good offers particularly if you will buy in bulk.

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