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We Checked Out the Best Deals on School Supplies. Here’s What We Found

Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder


Shopping for back-to-school gear can be stressful enough without having to go to a bunch of different stores to find the best prices.

So we did the work for you. We compared the cost of seven school-supply staples at Target, Walmart, Office Depot and Dollar General to see which store had the best deals.

We priced these items at stores in Pinellas Park, Florida, on Aug. 9. It was just four days away from the first day of first day of school in this area, so each store had sales on school gear.

Here are the lowest prices we found.

Backpacks

Target: $14.99

Walmart: $4.97

Office Depot: $14.99 (was $19.99 before the sale)

Dollar General: $3

While Dollar General had the best price for backpacks, the quality wasn’t on par with the backpacks in the other stores — and the selection was minimal. But if you’re shopping for a kindergartener or first grader who won’t be lugging a bunch of heavy books around all year, getting a backpack from Dollar General might be a good deal.

The Target we visited had the largest selection of backpacks, with many under $20.

Wood Pencils

Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Target: $1.19 for a box of 24 (was $1.99 before the sale)

Walmart: 47 cents for a box of 8 — three boxes would give you 24 pencils for $1.41

Office Depot:  75 cents for a box of 12 (was $1.69 before the sale) — two boxes would give you 24 pencils for $1.50

Dollar General: $1 for a box of 18

When you break it down to price per pencil, Target had the best deal, but the price differences vary only by a fraction of a cent. Check with your child’s school to see how many pencils are needed.

Crayons – Box of 24

Crayons are pictured
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Target: 25 cents (was $1.09 before the sale)

Walmart: 50 cents (was $1.50 before the sale)

Office Depot: 45 cents

Dollar General: 33 cents (was 50 cents before the sale)

You’ll save some money buying the store brand box of crayons at Target (providing you catch the sale), but you won’t be paying much for this item no matter which store you visit.

Washable crayons or other specialty crayons will cost extra. For these low prices, you’ll want to grab the basic 24-pack of crayons.

One-Inch Three-Ring Binder

A three-ring binder
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Target: $1.89

Walmart: $1.88

Office Depot: $3.99 (was $5.49 before the sale)

Dollar General: $1.50

Dollar General had the best prices for one-inch three-ring binders — less than half the sale price at Office Depot. At each store, binders go up in cost the wider they are. Check with your kids’ teachers to see if a one-inch binder will suffice or if they need a wider version.

Wide-Ruled Filler Paper

Wide rule paper
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Target: 99 cents for 175 sheets

Walmart: 82 cents for 150 sheets

Office Depot: 85 cents for 100 sheets (was $1.99 before the sale)

Dollar General: 75 cents for 125 sheets (was $1 before the sale)

Paper is another one of those items where the price difference at each store is pretty nominal, especially when you consider the price per sheet. The paper we found at Walmart cost the least per sheet, but we’re talking about a fraction of a penny difference.

If you need paper with reinforced holes, that will come at a higher price.

Earbuds

Ear buds
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Target: $4.99

Walmart: $1

Office Depot: $4.99

Dollar General: $5

Walmart had the best price for earbuds, but it was for a very simple set. The store also sold $69 earbuds that were wireless and had Bluetooth capability.

The price you pay will likely be a reflection of the quality. You should check with your children’s teachers to see if they’ll need to use earbuds regularly or just every now and then. That may help you determine how much you’ll want to shell out for this purchase.

Composition Notebooks

Composition notebook
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Target: 50 cents

Walmart: 50 cents

Office Depot: 50 cents (was $1.99 before the sale)

Dollar General: 50 cents

Basic composition notebooks cost the same at each store we visited. However, the notebooks at Walmart and Dollar General had 100 sheets, while the ones at the Target and Office Depot included only 80 sheets.

Total Calculation

Target: $24.80

Walmart: $11.08

Office Depot: $27.27

Dollar General: $12.08

Walmart had the best deals for these seven school supplies, though Dollar General’s prices were pretty comparable. Shoppers looking to save money on school supplies may want to skip Target and Office Depot.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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