Back to School on a Budget!

pile of fifth grade school supplies
Photo credit: Jans Life LLC

Hi guys! Let me just start by saying I cannot believe that I already have a 5th grader! If you’ve been with me for a while, you know that I have an 8 year old son, but you did read that right. He is going into the 5th grade and is super excited (and also super smart 🤓). Since he is homeschooled, our school supplies shopping may look a little different than yours, but I still thought it would be fun to share what I focused on purchasing to get him through the next year and beyond. Of course I set a budget before we got started. Let’s dive in!

I mentioned that my son is homeschooled, so below is the typical school supply list for a 5th grader according to Of course, this is all subject to change depending on the school your child attends or the curriculum you use, but this list seemed to be the average.

  • #2 pencils
  • Glue sticks
  • Pink erasers
  • Washable felt markers
  • Scissors
  • Pencil case
  • Pocket folders
  • Lined paper
  • Plain paper
  • Lined notebooks
  • Blue pens
  • Red pen
  • Ruler
  • Pencil crayons

Now, I did not look at any school supply lists before we went to the store. Instead, I thought through what my son uses on a regular basis and what he tends to run out of quickly and went from there. My budget for school supplies this year was $75. Florida’s back to school sales tax holiday kicked off on July 31st, so we made some time to go shopping last weekend. Here’s what we got…

school art supplies
Photo credit: Jans Life LLC

My son is an interesting combination of crafty and mathematician. He’s very good at both. So, one thing I wanted to make sure he had plenty of was art supplies. What we were really running low on was glue, so I bought six bottles of Elmer’s. He has a good Crayola collection at this point, so for that category, I really just wanted to replace broken crayons but also picked up some markers and colored pencils as well. He still has plenty of plain drawing paper. So, I didn’t buy any of that this time around. I normally buy drawing pads from Dollar Tree, so they’re always very affordable.

math school supplies
Photo credit: Jans Life LLC

Our curriculum discourages use of a calculator until junior high – same with ink pens – so we restocked on pencils and erasers. I also found this really nice flexible ruler. I probably broke a good handful of wooden rulers while I was in elementary school. My son has already snapped one in half too. So, I was happy to see this flexible option available.

And, of course, we stocked up on plenty of paper.

I purchased nearly everything at a local Target with the exception of buying a pack of ink pens from Amazon for to use for grading. The school that we’re registered to homeschool under requires that we grade with green ink pens, and (surprisingly) our Target did not have any. That aside though, it was a great value to get everything else from Target. The prices there were right on par with what I saw being charged at Walmart and cheaper than Amazon. I also have a RedCard, so I got 5% off my purchase at Target.

Let’s take a look at how everything added up:

With the RedCard for the Target items, my grand total was $63.31 – well within budget! I still want to pick up a few binders but plan to go to Dollar Tree for those. If I factor in 5 of those along with the exchanges I’d like to make at Target this week, the grand total should be $67.09.

You’ll notice that I did not include things like tissue and hand sanitizer in my budget for school supplies, but those may be things you’ll want to factor in if you’ll be sending your child to traditional school this year or if you’ll be in in-person classes yourself. I normally buy large bottles of Purell from Target to keep at the house and also my office at work and bulk tissue from BJ’s Wholesale or Sam’s Club.

If you live in Florida and have not started shopping for school supplies yet, the sales tax holiday runs through August 9th. So, there’s still time to stock up a little and save some money while you’re at it. But get out there soon! Even though we went on the first day of the holiday period, some shelves were already getting bare. I’ve also heard a few reports on the news that supply may not be able to keep up with this year’s demand. I guess that’s true as far as the scissors went, but I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see on everything else.

pile of fifth grade school supplies
Photo credit: Jans Life LLC

So! Tell me in the comments. What grades are your kids going to this year? Or are you in college and need supplies for yourself? Have you already finished shopping or still have a little left to go? Let me know!

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