How To Do All of Your Back-to-School Shopping at Costco

April 17, 2020 - Halifax, Canada - Costco Wholesale warehouse store located in the Bayers Lake retail park.
shaunl / Getty Images

Is it possible to get your back-to-school shopping list taken care of during a Costco trip? Absolutely! 

Here are some of the best ways savvy families, and Costco members, can save extra money and cross all the essential purchases off their back-to-school shopping lists.

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Bulk Buy Traditional School Supplies

Most families know Costco is a haven for stocking up on food, snacks and individual-sized drinks. While you keep an eye out for lunch and meal prep purchases, don’t forget bulk buys available on school supplies. Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with, recommends these specific back-to-school supply deals offered only by Costco.

  • Notebooks: Whether you’re looking for traditional Mead spiral-bound or legal writing pads, Costco has notebooks available to meet any student’s needs on every budget. “Look for a 12-pack of Mead 1-subject notebooks to go for about $16 or so, which works out to about $1.33 each,” Ramhold said. “A 12-count pack of legal pads that are standard paper sized will cost you about $14, or $1.17 each.”
  • Binders: Do you need binders? Ramhold said a four-pack of two binders at Costco is roughly $14. 
  • Pens: Stock up on pens for everyone and don’t worry if you misplace a few along the way. “A box of 108 black or blue pens from Paper Mate is $11.39, which works out to about 11 cents per pen,” Ramhold said. Other alternatives include pens from Bic and Uni-Ball.
  • Pencils: “Spring for a huge box of Ticonderoga number 2 pencils now and your kids probably won’t need more for the rest of the school year. A box of 96 will only cost you $12.99 at Costco, which is roughly 14 cents per pencil,” Ramhold said. Shoppers searching for mechanical pencils will be able to find them at Costco, but you’ll also need to pay for enough lead refills on hand.

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Stock Up During Sales

Keep your eyes peeled for news of Costco sales events, which are held on a regular basis. These deals extend to both warehouse and online shoppers. 

“Be sure to note when the sales begin and end to ensure you don’t miss out on these items before they sell out,” Ramhold said. This is especially important shopping advice since some products may take time to be restocked, while others might not be restocked at all.

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Check Online

Is there a back-to-school item left on your list that you cannot find in stock at your local warehouse? Check online at the Costco website. Ramhold said very often Costco shoppers can purchase items online which aren’t available locally.

Online checkout through Costco also typically includes shipping costs. “While it might be slightly higher to have the item delivered versus being able to shop for it locally, that’s not always the case, and it doesn’t mean it’s a bad deal when it is,” Ramhold said.

Be Reasonable With Your Expectations

Similar to how Jan. 1 is the start of the new year with many resolutions made accordingly, the start of the school year may carry some higher expectations and goals compared to other times of the year. You might feel compelled to buy everything right now, but the better approach to back-to-school shopping is to treat it as a marathon, not a race. Pace yourself and your budget.

“Until you know what the school year is going to look like — how busy your family will be and what kind of schedule you’ll have — it’s best to hold off on purchasing too much,” Ramhold said.

Make Your Money Work for You

Avoid making impulsive bulk buys, like tons of yogurt your kids swear they’ll eat every single day at lunch. As you hold off on the expense, Ramhold said you can see if your kids actually want yogurt as part of their daily meal. The same goes with fresh produce. Great to have on hand if kids plan to eat fresh fruits and veggies every lunch, but if they end up eating an alternative in the cafeteria you may wind up throwing away spoiled produce faster and wasting money.

Split the Cost With Other Families

One of the easiest ways to save 50% on your Costco shopping purchase is to split the package cost with family members or friends. This is also true of back-to-school Costco shopping trips. 

Ramhold recommends splitting the purchase, when possible, with other families who need the same items. This is a shopping win-win for everyone. Families cut costs, get the essentials they and their students need for school and nobody has to worry about finding storage for excess products not in use.

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About the Author

Heather Taylor is a senior finance writer for GOBankingRates. She is also the head writer and brand mascot enthusiast for PopIcon, Advertising Week’s blog dedicated to brand mascots. She has been published on HelloGiggles, Business Insider, The Story Exchange, Brit + Co, Thrive Global, and more media outlets. 

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