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Budget back-to-school items: Check off your school supply list with these affordable essentials

Alvina Wang/BestReviews

Affordable school supplies and other budget picks

The school year is coming back around, and there’s no better time to start checking items off of your school supply list than right now. Finding affordable school supplies can be somewhat of a chore, but with an understanding of what supplies you need, you can probably find all your needs at a fair price. 

From pens and pencils to planners, notebooks and more, being prepared for the back-to-school season doesn’t have to be stressful or break the bank.

Shop this article: Ticonderoga 30-Pack of Yellow Pre-Sharpened Graphite No. 2 PencilsBlue Sky  Academic Planner and Apple iPad Air 

Picking your school supply essentials

Student age and grade

Perhaps the main factors for your school supply list are the student’s age, grade and classes. For example, glue is an excellent option for elementary and middle school students who are likely to perform arts and crafts. Older students could benefit from tools with more versatility, such as laptops, tablets or other smart devices. Additionally, a student taking specific classes, such as art or dance, may require more specific materials than what you’ll find on a school supplies list.

School supply options for keeping to your budget

Most school supply lists include several different items, all of which students are expected to have. These costs can add up quickly, though there are a few ways to keep to your budget. If you know the student will use certain disposable items, such as crayons, pens, pencils or erasers, for more than just one school year, you can buy them in bulk to save year after year. Otherwise, consider looking for deals on the student’s essentials.

Choosing your student’s essentials

What constitutes “back-to-school essentials” can vary from student to student, and if they’re too old for elementary school supply lists, then it may be up to you to choose. A few agreed-upon essentials are backpacks, pens and pencils, notebooks and binders. However, this can depend on your student's classes and may include things ranging from cameras to musical instruments and more.

Best back-to-school supplies on a budget

Ticonderoga 30-Pack Of Yellow Pre-Sharpened Graphite No. 2 Pencils

Pencils are a must-have school supply item, no matter the student’s age. These number two pencils fit most peoples’ budgets and write with the standard lightness used in most schools. They include a useful eraser on the end that’s perfect for math, writing, drawing and other subjects.

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Paper Mate InkJoy 100RT Medium Point Ultra Smooth Ink Pens

These pens are super affordable when purchased in bulk and they write very smoothly compared to most other pens. You can buy these pens in either assorted color or black packages, in packs of 12 or 20.

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Crayola 24-Pack of Long Barrel Colored Woodcase Pencils

These colored pencils from Crayola are the industry standard, with colors including red, yellow, blue, white and black, among many others still. They come pre-sharpened and are made from all nontoxic materials.

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Crayola 152-Pack Ultimate Crayon Collection With Assorted Colors

The price of this massive crayon pack is impressive. It also comes with a crayon sharpener and a useful carrying caddy that makes coloring time easy. You can buy this crayon set in a bundle with a pack of twistable crayons for a little bit more money. 

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JanSport Student Backpack With 15-Inch Laptop Compartment

This JanSport backpack works great for books and other supplies, and it also has a mesh pocket for holding water bottles and a 15-inch laptop compartment. You can purchase this option in several different colors and styles, each with JanSport’s signature S-curve shoulder straps with adjustable 14.5-inch shoulder drops.

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Fiskars Kids Pointed-Tip 5-Inch Safety Scissors In Random Colors

Scissors are another must-have for preschool and K-8 students, and this particular pair is extremely affordable and made blunt for added safety. They come in a random color, either red, blue, light blue or green. This option also comes with a full lifetime warranty, according to the product description.

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Gorilla Kids Retractable Disappearing Purple Glue Sticks

For students involved in arts and crafts, glue sticks are a necessity. These disappearing purple glue sticks are ideal for visual projects, offering a strong adhesive in both single packs of six-packs.

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Paper Mate 12-Pack Of Large Pink Pearl Classic Pencil Erasers

If a student plans to work in pencil often, another useful tool to keep handy is an eraser. While most pencils include an eraser, these offer a backup solution for when those tiny erasers on your pencil run out.

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PowerMe Black Electric Pencil Sharpener for No. 2 Pencils

If you plan to use a pencil, then you will also require a pencil sharpener. This electric sharpener is battery-powered and offers long-term pencil sharpening. You can buy this electric pencil sharpener in black, blue, green, pink, purple or white.

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Emraw Four-Pack Of 100-Sheet Black-and-White Marble-Style Cover Composition Books

Composition books are a classic lined paper option for use when taking notes or working on assignments. These lined composition books come with four units, and you can purchase them in black and white or assorted colors.

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Blue Sky Academic Year Planner

Academic planners are essential for older kids, and this flexible planner offers weekly and monthly calendar planning. You can buy this planner in 8.5-by-11-inch, 7-by-9-inch or 5-by-8-inch sizes. 

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Apple 2022 Fifth-Generation 10.9-Inch Purple iPad Air With Wi-Fi

Tablets aren’t exactly cheap, but with Apple offering more budget options than ever, these can make an excellent alternative to laptops for older students. You can buy the iPad Air with either 64 or 256GB of storage, with Wi-Fi or a Wi-Fi and cellular bundle. It’s also available in purple, blue, pink, space gray and starlight.

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Acer Aspire 5 15.6-Inch Full Display Slim Laptop With AMD Ryzen 5 Processor

The Aspire 5 is a powerful Acer laptop that comes at a fair price, featuring a powerful processor and multiple bundle options for maximizing your purchase. It also includes 8GB of DDR4 RAM for multitasking and up to 11 hours of battery life off the charger.

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Peter McGuthrie writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money. 

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