16 Amazing Back-To-School Dollar Store Buys to Hack the School Year

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Elevate your school game with these genius dollar store finds.
Updated April 16, 2024
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A mom and daughter getting ready for school

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You may be stressing out a little bit with school starting soon. Perhaps you’re thinking about the clothes you have to buy for your kids or the school supplies you need to stock up on.

But you may be able to find some unique and affordable dollar store hacks that can help you kick off the school year and keep more money in your pocket.

Here are a few to check out to get school started on the right foot without breaking the bank.

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Fidget toys

Courtesy of Dollar Tree A set of fidget toys

It can be challenging for kids to concentrate sometimes, and they might need to keep their hands busy with a fidget toy to focus. It will help your student while you stay on track to get ahead financially.

Grab a few Pop-It Fidget Bubble Toy Keychains from Dollar Tree for $1.25 to keep your kids busy in their homework nooks.

They come in a variety of shapes and can attach to a backpack if your children may need them at school as well as at home.

Dish rack

Courtesy of Dollar General A dish rack

You may already be dreading all the papers coming home from school or folders that will be lost or disorganized.

So grab a dish rack from your local dollar store to get things in order. The Rubbermaid Dish Rack Drainer, which retails for $12 at Dollar General, can keep all your folders in place and paper organized.

Plastic caddy

Courtesy of Dollar Tree A plastic caddy

There will be plenty of pens, pencils, and other school supplies sitting around that will need to be organized during the school year.

A plastic caddy like one that can be used in college dorm showers can also be helpful for your young kids by collecting all their art supplies in one spot.

For example, you can get a Divided 3-Compartment Plastic Caddy at Dollar Tree for only $1.25.

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Basket for papers

Courtesy of Dollar General A basket

If you need another way to keep school supplies and papers together, pick up a decorative basket to help put things in one spot.

Dollar General’s Hyacinth Caddy features a wood basket with dividers so you can easily separate papers from different kids or organize them by topic or importance.

Grab one for $5 at your local store.

Shoe organizer

Courtesy of Dollar Tree A shoe organizer

Shoe organizers don’t have to be used for shoes, especially if you need a good storage solution during the school year.

Pick up an 8-Pocket Hanging Shoe Organizer from Dollar Tree in either gray or navy blue for $1.25.

The organizer can hang over your child’s door and help them keep track of school shoes as well as papers, pencils, glue, scissors, and plenty of other school supplies they need at home.

Sponges

Courtesy of Dollar Tree A sponge

Do your kids need their lunches to stay cold until it’s time to eat? Grab some sponges.

You can get a two-pack of Scrub Buddies Cellulose Sponges for $1.25 at Dollar Tree. Wet the sponges and put them in zipped sandwich bags.

Then toss the wet sponge and baggie in your lunches. They’ll act as ice packs to keep things cold, and the zipped bag will keep the water in as they thaw out at school.

Hooks

Courtesy of Dollar General A set of hooks

It may be outside, but it will get cold in the winter, and all those heavy coats need to go somewhere.

Pick up Command Hooks at Dollar General for just $3.50 each. They'll help you designate a specific space for winter gear, and you can use the hooks for other times for backpacks and school gear.

Sticky notes

Courtesy of Dollar General A pack of sticky notes

It can be hard to keep track of everyone’s schedule during the school year. Kids may have sports or activities, you need to worry about work meetings, and there’s always a doctor’s appointment somewhere.

Create a family calendar on your wall using Officehub Neon Sticky Notes from Dollar General.

You can make a grid with different days of the week, and the sticky notes come in a variety pack for $3.00, so each family member can get their own color.

Plastic tablecloth

Courtesy of Dollar Tree A plastic tablecloth

A plastic tablecloth is a great way to set up a corner for your kids to get as messy as they want during the school year.

Grab a Plastic Table Cover at Dollar Tree for $1.25 to get your corner started. Depending on your space, you can choose from various colors or sizes to make it the perfect spot for projects and homework for the kids.

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Duct tape

Courtesy of Dollar Tree A set of duct tape

There are plenty of everyday uses you can get out of duct tape for school, like taping a binder back together, but you can also use it for some creative school supply projects.

Grab a plastic zippered freezer bag and wrap it in some Tool Bench Hardware Colorful Reflective Duct Tape from Dollar Tree for $1.25.

The tape makes the bag more durable and perfect to use as a pencil pouch for school.

Wrapping paper

Courtesy of Dollar Tree A set of wrapping paper

You don’t have to be in the festive spirit to wrap up some fun to start the school year.

The Voila Solid-Color All-Occasion Wrapping Paper comes in various colors at Dollar Tree for $1.25. Use it to make book covers to protect your books or wrap up binders to protect them during the school year.

Craft box

Courtesy of Dollar General A craft box

You may have a kid who loves to bring home small sticks, rocks, pine cones, and other little treasures from the playground at school.

So give them a Crafter’s Closet Color-In Wood Box for $5 from Dollar General.

It can be a good project but also a great treasure box that can contain all those treasures your kids pick up without spreading dirt all over your house.

Jars

Courtesy of Dollar General A jar

Dollar General has Decorative Embossed Glass Jars in pint and quart sizes that can be the perfect store hack for school.

Buy a few pint jars for $1 or quart jars for $2, and let your kids decorate them and use them as storage for the school year.

Pint jars are perfect for paper clips or push pins, while the taller quart jars could be ideal for pens and pencils.

Carabiner

Courtesy of Dollar Tree A set of carabiner

You can stop throwing money away on fancy organizers. A carabiner is a great way to quickly hook and unhook items you need for school each day.

You can stock up with a two-pack of Tool Bench Hardware Carabiner Clips with Key Rings at Dollar Tree for $1.25 for any number of uses.

Clip some hand sanitizer to your kid’s backpack or use them on the back of the car seat to hold backpacks on the way to school to make it easy to grab when you get there.

Magnets

Courtesy of Dollar Tree A set of magnets

Older kids may want magnets for their lockers to hold papers or pictures.

Check out Dollar General for Artskills Crafter'S Closet Adhesive Magnets, which come in a pack of 18 magnets for $3.

They make the perfect base for all kinds of creative ideas your kids may come up with for their lockers.

Travel soap case

Courtesy of Dollar Tree A set of travel soap cases

You may have plenty of flashcards in random spots around the house for multiplication tables or spelling words for each week.

A colorful Travel Soap Case from Dollar Tree is the perfect way to keep them contained in one place. You can pick from a variety of colors from the store for $1.25.

Pro tip: Doing a lot of your back-to-school shopping at the Dollar Store can help you stay on track to climb out of debt and get your finances right.

Bottom line

Monkey Business/Adobe A teacher getting a gift

Dollar store hacks are a great way to save money while organizing supplies or finding a way to balance school life with home life.

Don’t forget that you can stretch your money further by using a credit card that lets you earn cash back or offers other rewards.

So check out your local dollar store and take an open mind with you to find some unique possibilities to get organized for the new school year.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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