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Cost-Effective School Supplies for Back to School

Cost-Effective School Supplies for Back to School

Are you or is someone in the family heading back to school this fall? There’s no question that getting back to the books can be an expensive endeavour. The good news? A little research and planning can go a long way in saving you some money as you stock up on all the essentials.

Check out our cost-effective school supplies for returning to the classroom:

Scientific calculator.

You may not need all the functions of the scientific calculator today (check with your school before you purchase anything), but there’s a good chance you will in the future. And for the price, it’s worth spending a little bit extra up front to avoid having to buy a second calculator down the road. For special functions like exponents, roots, and scientific notation, try something with a middle-of-the-road price point and excellent user reviews, like the Texas Instruments TI-36X, sold on Amazon or in stores for about $18 – $20.


If you’re in the market for a laptop, a good place to start is by determining what you need the machine to do. Do you need Microsoft Office, Photoshop, or a desktop email client? Or do you primarily need web-based tools and applications? Check out your school to see what they have available in their computer labs and libraries before making your decision.

One of the best bangs for your buck right now is the Chromebook — but only if you spend the majority of your time computing in a browser. I.e., checking email, social networks, and working within Google’s app suite (Google Docs, Gmail, and so on), compared to using locally-run programs and storage.

Chromebooks start at about $300 (see the Toshiba Chromebook 2 to start).


Traveling back and forth to the classroom with a laptop, books, and gym clothes can get tiresome without the proper carrier. Avoid the shoulder strain without breaking the bank with a purpose made laptop bag, designed to carry and evenly distribute the weight of your machine while also providing ample storage for books, pens, and so on.

The North Face Pivoter backpack is an excellent value bag that is comfortable, affordable, and includes a designated compartment for your laptop. The bags run about $65 on Amazon.

Markers & pencil crayons.

When it comes to sourcing markers and pencil crayons, Crayola is a great go-to brand for cost effective, reliable options. Sure, they’re not “professional” quality, but they’ll do the trick in most cases — and for a fraction of the price. A pack of 8 washable markers will cost about $5, and 24 colored pencils will run about $7 online from places like Amazon, or in stores at places like Walmart, Staples, and so on.

Binders & loose leaf paper.

For basic school supplies like pens, binders, paper, and so on, it’s best to avoid shopping at places like office supply stores, drug stores, grocery stores, and department stores. You’ll get the best prices at places like Walmart, Amazon, dollar stores, and even Staples (they typically offer an excellent price-match policy!).

Start by comparing Amazon’s collection against what you see in the stores. A great place to begin is with a 2 inch binder, available in some cases for a couple of dollars. Consider interior pockets and storage, like this Avery 2” binder with 4 interior pockets.

When buying loose leaf paper, consider quantity; you’ll probably get a better price the more you buy up front. The Sparco College Ruled binder paper is a well priced option for a quality product.

Water bottle.

Stay hydrated all day long with the help of your own refillable water bottle. Nalgene has excellent durable options ranging in size, color, and shape. The 1-quart variety is a great place to start under $10.

From your friends at InTown Suites, have a safe and fun return to school this fall!