When I was a kid, I loved shopping for school supplies. Every September promised new beginnings, and every new folder or set of pens promised me that this would be the year I finally became a good student.

It took me a long time to actually become that good student, and by the time that I was one, I dreaded shopping for supplies. Not because I didn’t love the feeling of new highlighters or a brand new notebook, but because I feared the cost that came with it. I knew it was a big expense every fall, and whether my parents were paying for my supplies in high school, or I was buying them myself in college, I felt guilty and stressed-out.

There’s no need to feel that way. College is expensive enough without having to spend a fortune on supplies. That’s why today I’m sharing a few of the best places to get cheap school supplies for college. I’m dividing this post into two sections: where to get cheap school supplies, and ways to get cheap school supplies. In the first half, I’ll be talking about my favorite places to get cheap school supplies, and in the second, I’ll be sharing some hacks for getting your school supplies costs as low as possible.

Where to get cheap school supplies

Amazon

How to Save with Amazon Student

I truly think that Amazon can the cheapest and easiest place to get school supplies — if you’re smart about it! I recently took the time over on my personal blog to calculate how much money I saved with Amazon Student in college, and it was more than $730 (you can read that post here).

You don’t need to use Amazon Student to shop on Amazon — I didn’t for many years. But if you do use it, you get free shipping and special discounts on things like textbooks and school supplies. If you sign up through a link like mine, you get a trial period for free, and you can always cancel after. Check it out here.

How to Save with Amazon Search

One of the reasons it’s easy to save money with Amazon is that you can rank your searches by lowest price. So if I’m looking for “school folders” or “highlighters,” I can type that in to the Amazon search box and then sort them not by Relevance, but by Price: Low to High.

Dollar Store

It’s also easy to buy cheap school supplies at the dollar store. Many dollar stores sell notebooks, pens, highlighters, and other basic supplies that are fairly good quality and don’t break the bank.

Target Dollar Spot

The Target dollar spot is another great option for cheap school supplies. While Target itself can be pricey, the dollar spot often has teacher supplies and school supplies in July through September. The pens and notebooks in particular are good quality and have great designs, but I don’t recommend the sticky notes. I’ve purchased some of their sticky notes and they didn’t stick or hold very well.

Hema or Regional Store

I live in the Netherlands now, and one of our most popular general stores is the Hema, which sells lots of cute and inexpensive school supplies for around 5 euros or less. Wherever you live, there’s probably a regional or country-specific store that’s known for selling just about everything. Check them out and see if they have school supplies or office supplies, as well.

How to get cheap school supplies

Reusing

One of the best ways to save money on school supplies is to reuse them year after year. Save your folders and binders every year, and take good care of them so they’ll last you a while. When your friends are going to throw away their school supplies at the end of the year, or if you have older or even younger siblings who don’t want theirs anymore, offer to take them off of their hands. You can easily use some duct tape or wrapping paper to fix tears or embarrassing designs.

Buying second-hand

You can also buy school supplies second-hand. Most people don’t think to sell their old school supplies, but at stores like GoodWill or other second-hand stores, you may find bins and bins of old pens and notebooks for very, very low prices.

DIYing

It’s also not hard to DIY school supplies or make your cheap ones look much cuter. Just yesterday I used a cardboard box, a strip of fabric, and some leftover ribbon to make a cute and functional corkboard. Add washi tape to cheap pencils to make them cuter, or cover a $1 notebook with wrapping paper to make it more fun.

Printing

I offer a lot of free printables on this site, which you can sign up for on my subscription page. Those printables include a free planner, free worksheets, and other items that you can print out to replace more expensive options. I can also strongly recommend the Passion Planner, which offers a free printable version if you share about it on social media.

Couponing

I saved the best for last. I’m not kidding you when I say that I have saved literally hundreds of dollars with coupons in college. I used CVS as my local pharmacy and drugstore, and I regularly saved over 80% of my bill by using coupons. You can also use coupons at stores like Target, Walmart, and at the grocery store. There are tons of free resources online for how to coupon. I really like the Krazy Coupon Lady.

If there’s interest, I’ll follow up this post with one on how to decorate your cheap school supplies to make them feel more special, and on my basics and recommendations for cheap school supplies for college — what to get, and where to get it cheap. If you’re interested, comment below and let me know!

Where do you get cheap school supplies?

Where to Get Cheap School Supplies

Sara Laughed

Sara is the founder of College Compass and an alumna of Wellesley College and Oxford University. She runs the popular blog Sara Laughed. Her greatest aspiration is to live a creative life fueled by love and coffee. Follow her onTwitter and Instagram at @SaraLaughed.