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Optimise your spending on back-to-school supplies with these easy tips. IMAGE: 123RF

How To Save A Few More Dollars When Buying School Supplies

School supplies are obviously non-negotiables, but just like everything else in Singapore, going back to school seems to be getting more and more expensive each year, especially since it seems to usually mean a fresh set of school supplies each time. But still, despite the rising costs, there are a few small things we can do to help curb the unnecessary purchases and the overspending.

Try these tips when it comes to back-to-school supplies:

Take stock first

If possible, try and get a stationery list from school for your child, so you have some idea of what will be required for the year ahead. But before you start making a list of new supplies to purchase, go through the inventory hiding around your house first. You might be surprised at what you find lurking at the bottom of school bags or backs of closets.

If this isn't your child's first year at school or if they have older siblings, chances are, you will most likely find something that can be reused, such as pencil cases, rulers and pencil sharpeners, none of which really need to be bought brand new every time!

Once you’ve cleaned out the house, then start making those lists for what your kids actually need - and don't need - for the new school year.

Do a stationery swap

Now that you know what you will need to buy and what you have at home that you won’t be using, consider doing a stationery swap with friends and family who will likely also be in the same boat as you. Everyone benefits, there is less wastage, and hopefully you will save some money with needing to buy less stationery now.


Stick to a budget

Make your budget stretch by prioritising essentials over the ‘wants’. And even then, remember that not everything needs to be bought at once - staggering purchases can help with the overall cost in the long run. Also, use this opportunity to teach little ones the value of money and get them to think how much of their pocket money they are willing to spend to help with the budget to get some of their (non-essential) wants.

Keep to the basics

To help stay within the budget, stick to basic, everyday supplies, rather than character-themed fads that will obviously cost more for the same function (do they really need that strawberry-scented pencil over a regular HB pencil at school?)

PS: When you do buy school supplies, buy good quality products, so that you don’t end up spending more time and money in the long run with cheaper quality things to keep stocking up.

For instance, Smiggle is great, but can get very pricey very quickly, so perhaps limit only one or two favourite purchases from there, while you buy the rest of the supplies from more budget-friendly stores such as Stationery World, Mustafa Centre, NTUC and even Giant. Also, don’t forget to check if Daiso, One Dollar Only or the Valu$ Stores carry it cheaper for more bang for your buck.

If you haven’t already, check out these options (either online or at one of their many stores across the island):

  • You probably won’t find more variety or better deals on school supplies than at a Popular store. Prices are wallet friendly, and members save even more with the year-round discounts.
  • It might not look as fun and colourful as Popular, but Evergreen Stationery stores also carry a huge inventory of affordable school supplies.
  • is great for school supplies, and even gives discounts on certain credit cards for most products.
  • If you need an ergonomic school bag for your child, consider the Online Exclusive sales on They aren’t just famous for their shoes and insoles!
  • Likewise, Typo also has a fun selection of affordable stationery, accessories and art & craft supplies for school

Wait for the sales

Once you’ve decided on what you need, and if you can, wait until the next sale or promotion day before hitting the shops. There are always holiday sales and back-to-school deals, so if you can get your prep work done ahead of time and then just wait for the right deals, you’ll save a lot more money without any real extra effort!


Buy in bulk

Just like groceries, the per-unit cost of each item gets cheaper if you buy it in bulk. But unlike groceries, school supplies are NOT perishable, which means that you can hold onto things like pencils, sharpeners, erasers, books for longer, without worrying about them going bad. Try going shopping together with a few other school parents who need the same supplies, so that you can buy in bulk and then split the supplies with them for a lower per-unit cost.

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