Expert Tips to Save Money on Back-to-School Shopping at Costco

Check out Costco's back-to-school deals.

Back-to-school shopping is big business. According to statistics from shopping savings site RetailMeNot, parents plan to spend $153 on new clothes, $121 on electronics, $70 on shoes, $37 on pencils, notebooks and pens and $33 on backpacks this year.

When it comes to price, selection and convenience, Costco just might be the king of back-to-school deals.

“Costco members can find everything from basic school supplies to back-to-school clothing and after-school snacks — all for competitive prices,” said Kendal Perez of shopping site

If you know the right tricks, you can do even better at Costco than the average member. Here are a few insider tips to stretch your back-to-school dollars.

Bring Your Whole List to Costco

When it comes to back-to-school shopping, smart shoppers treat Costco as a one-stop shop.

“Part of the benefit of shopping at Costco for back to school is that parents can take care of the majority of their kids’ lists in one shopping trip while also treating them to a cheap lunch at the food court,” Perez said.

Make Your Money Work for You

You can spare yourself the headache of hopping from store to store by getting everything you need in one place, including Costco backpacks, notebooks and markers. In most cases, you can get all your back-to-school must-haves for prices that are at or near what you’d find anywhere else — and all under one roof.

When you’re at the store, make sure to stock up on these seven must-have items you should always get at Costco.

Buy in Bulk

Costco is known for selling large quantities of merchandise at steep discounts, and back-to-school items are no exception.

“Costco sells large packs of basic pens, pencils, folders and notebooks that easily sustain kids through the entire school year and beyond,” Perez said.

Savvy shoppers can take advantage of the low prices associated with buying in bulk at Costco. It’s easy to stock up for the entire school year in one shopping trip or team up with another school parent and split the cost. If you have more than one child headed back to school, shopping for supplies at Costco is a no-brainer.

Make Your Money Work for You

More Valuable Than Ever: How A Costco Membership Pays for Itself

Go for Instant Savings Items

Savvy members can save on Costco school supplies by taking advantage of the store’s instant savings program.

“Costco is already offering instant savings on school supplies and will continue to do so through August,” Perez said. “So parents should review the Instant Savings booklets and pick up desired items as they’re marked down.”

Donate to the Classroom

Costco helps you spread the classroom love around — and helps keep your kid in the teacher’s good graces — by offering discounts on communal items that you can donate to your child’s classroom.

“Shared supplies like tissue and glue sticks are always part of classroom supply lists,” Perez said.

According to Perez, parents should be on the lookout for deals on eight- and 12-packs of Kleenex brand tissue and 18-packs of glue sticks, which are often cheaper than they are at Staples.

Make Your Money Work for You

Remember Edible Back-to-School Items

Since kids gobble them up both during and after school, snacks definitely count as back-to-school items — and Costco can help you save.

“Buying snack items in bulk from Costco is an easy and affordable way to supplement kids’ lunch boxes and have something ready for after school,” Perez said. “What makes Costco an even better deal is the number of organic snacks available, priced at much less than what you can find at Sprouts or Whole Foods.”

Among the wide variety of wholesome snacks that Costco is currently offering are:

  • Stretch Island Organic Fruit Strips
  • Annie’s Organic Bunny Snacks
  • Figgy Pops Organic Mangoberry Supersnacks

More Tips: 20 Ways to Pay Less on Your Next Costco Trip

Shop the Bargains

According to Perez, shoppers should look for especially good deals on the following items:

  • Glasses: Costco is known for offering great deals on eyeglasses, including youth glasses.
  • Construction paper: You can find large packs of multi-colored construction paper at some of the lowest per-sheet prices around.
  • Three-ring binders: Costco sells several sizes in multi-packs of six at low prices.
  • Scissors: Look for deals on three-packs and pairs of Scotch brand scissors.
  • Electronics: Costco’s generous 90-day return policy for electronics makes the store a good place to buy laptops, printers, tablets and other back-to-school electronics.
  • Appliances: Back-to-college shoppers will find an assortment of dorm room items like mini refrigerators, microwaves, blenders, coffee makers and storage containers.
  • Kids’ jeans: Costco typically offers instant savings through August on kids’ jeans from name brands like Lees.

Check for Online-Only Deals

Costco offers exclusive deals that members can only take advantage of online.

“Last year, Costco hosted an online-only sales event in August for electronics, appliances and back-to-school supplies, so shoppers should keep their eyes peeled for a repeat event this year,” Perez said.

Sign up on Costco’s website for exclusive, online-only deals, and check back frequently if you can’t find what you’re looking for right away.

More Expert Secrets: Top Kirkland-Brand Items Only Costco Insiders Know

About the Author

Andrew Lisa

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was formerly one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the largest newspaper syndicate in the country, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the business section editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as a copy editor for, a financial publication in the heart of Wall Street's investment community in New York City.

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