Keep Your Back-To-School Shopping On Budget

The school year hasn’t even started yet and already your kids have come home with coursework — except, it’s not exactly the book report you’d expect from a high school teacher. For one thing, it’s your name on the assignment, and for another, the task tests your ability to research and budget. Can you guess what it is yet?

This isn’t your first rodeo. After years of sending off your kids to school, you know the first day is preceded by the dreaded annual back-to-school supply list. Things have changed a lot since you were in the classroom when all you needed was paper and a pencil. Now your kids are expected to come equipped with everything from crafts supplies to elaborate graphing calculators.

As a parent, you want only the very best for your children, so you have to buy what the teacher suggests. This is no easy feat for a family that runs a financially tight household, but it’s possible if you know where, when, and how to shop for these materials. Luckily, you have a tool that tells you these things and it’s right in your back pocket. Use your Android or iPhone to find the best deals in order to tick off every item on the list and earn an A+ on your homework.


Much like the QR scanner apps that were popular a few years ago, the RedLaser app comes equipped with a scanner that reads both QR and barcodes. This function on its own makes this app incredibly convenient, as anyone who has hunted down a price will attest. Where it becomes critical this fall is its ability to compare the price of the code it scanned to the cost of the same product elsewhere. If the backpack you just scanned isn’t the cheapest, RedLaser will let you know where you can find that very same backpack for less.

You have the option of driving to the next location where you can find the cheaper backpack. Or, you can inquire about the store’s policy about price matching. With a quick flash of the screen, you may be able to get the lower price without wasting any time or gas.


Belonging to a large family of pay-back apps, Ibotta is a rebate coupon system that uses PayPal to refund the partial cost of your item. Like RedLaser above this, it too can be used for anything — not just essential classroom materials. All you have to do is search through the 300 participating retailers to find a convenient rebate. Ibotta promise a variety of deals on supplies, clothes, and even food for all of those school lunches. Once you unlock the rebate you need, find a participating store and buy the item in question.

Ibotta uses your receipt to verify the purchase. Once the app can confirm you bought the right item for the appropriate deal, they’ll send you your rebate via PayPal in about 24 hours. Ibotta also gives you the option of swapping cash in your PayPay account for gift cards valid at the Apple Store or Starbucks. Whether or not you share with your kids that free frap thanks to your app is totally up to you.

Wal-Mart Savings Catcher

If you shop exclusively at Wal-Mart, you’ll be able to skip RedLaser entirely as the two apps function remarkably similarly. The app uses your phone’s camera to scan the barcode at the bottom of your Wal-Mart receipt. Once the Savings Catcher processes your purchase, it will alert you if another retailer sells the identical crayon set for less. If it doesn’t manage to catch anything, you’ll have finished your shopping early. If it does, Wal-Mart promises to send any variance in price in the form of an e-gift card.


If you hoard rewards points like a dragon stockpiles its gold, then Flok is the app for you. It connects over 100,000 participating retailers that offer loyalty programs to their customers. Once you download the app, you can see which stores in your area offer some sort of rewards program and what kind of benefits they build towards.

Though it holds no immediate savings like the apps above, it does pay off in the long run. When you shop at participating stores, eventually you’ll earn enough points to qualify for a considerable discount towards larger items like the pricey graphing calculator.

It’s okay if you need to delete a few pictures of your cat in order to fit these new apps. There’s always time to replace them once back-to-school season is over. Until then, these 4 apps may end up being the MVPs of your smartphone.

It will take some patience, however. You’ll have to commit to swiping through each app, trying to find the best deals at the right retailers. In the end, considering the potential savings these apps provide, your time spent will be worth it.

Even with their help, back-to-school season is an expensive time of year. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the average household spends $674 on classroom supplies. At $1,000, an installment loan is an ideal size to help you cover these costs if you ever find yourself short. As a direct lender of installment loans, you can speak with the loan specialists at MoneyKey to learn more about this kind of financial assistance.

Though small, they’re perfectly sized for a necessary back-to-school shopping spree. They also come with realistic repayment terms that allow you to pay back your loan over several installments.

Keep this in the back of your mind as you scroll through the App or Play Store. There’s a large chance that these apps will help keep your supplies to a manageable price, but if they don’t offer the savings you expected, an installment loan can help make up the difference. Either way, you’re getting that A+! 

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