School Supply Shopping Made Easy
Pencils, crayons, pens, and notebooks mean it’s that time again! All parents know that back-to-school supply shopping can add up quickly. However, there are things you can do to minimize the cost.
Most schools will have a list of supplies your child will need. If you’re lucky enough to get that list well in advance and you can skip the crowds and go early. You may even get some great sales if you shop early enough. Before you head out, let’s take a look at a few ideas that could save you some steps, and some money.
1. Stick To The List
Any item not on the list provided by your child’s teacher probably isn’t needed. Although kids may beg for extra supplies, make a rule that if something isn’t on the list, you won’t buy it. They can have fun picking out the items that are actually needed.
2. Shop At Home First
You likely have several things at home that can be used. Look in your office for pencils, pens, unused notebooks, notebook paper, and more. Remember to check your child’s book bag, crayons, lunch box, and anything else that comes to mind.
3. Combine The Save
If you have more than one child and they each have a separate list of school supply items, you’ll want to combine them all into one master list. Tally up the total number of notebooks needed. Do the same for calculators, pencils, rulers, and everything.
When you get to the store, it will be easier to pick up a bundle of items then go back and forth filling each individual child’s list. Then, when you get home, you can divide up the items to give to each child using their own list. This may also save you money since there are often deals on packs of folders, paper, pencils, and other supplies. Often you can buy a pack of ten folders for less than you can buy a single folder.
4. Buy The Basics
Yes, glitter pens are cool and pencils with wacky patterns on them are really fun, but they cost more than basic pens and standard pencils. You will save a ton of money buying the basics rather than the fancy styles. You will want to double check your school’s list of supplies as some schools want only plain colored notebooks, folders, pens, and pencils anyway.
If your school allows for some fun with school supplies, it’s a lot cheaper to buy the plain basics and dress them up with a small package of silly eraser tops to make pencils unique or stickers to decorate the folders. You can usually buy a package of embellishments to share between all the kids for a lot less money than buying decorative supplies.
5. Consider Buying Bulk
If you have room to store the extras, another strategy is to buy the basic school supplies in bulk. If you are going to save a bundle on pencils by purchasing 100 of them, then why not do it—you will always need them. With 3 boys we go easily to that number in a school year, even more considering we need them at home as well for homework.
You may also want to check with a friend or relative about going in together on bulk supplies. You can save a lot of money by coordinating with your friends and neighbors.
Getting a big box store membership card is a great idea as well. Use it on school supplies, clothes, food, and other items throughout the year. Membership is usually pretty reasonable, especially if you can share it with a family member or friend. Track your savings throughout the year and you’ll see the value adds up fast.
6. Consider Another Store
Many parents immediately think of large superstores as the best source of school supplies. Remember to consider the offerings of drug stores and even grocery stores.
Frequently, these less-considered stores can have spectacular sales on many back-to-school supplies just to get shoppers in the door. Check out newspaper inserts and mailed circulars to find out about drugstore sales. Dollar stores have become a shopping sensation for a reason.
Things like notebooks, paper, pencils, calculators, pens, and erasers shouldn’t take a big bite out of anyone’s budget.
7. Watch For Sales
As the calendar closes in on the beginning of the school year, keep your eyes open. Sales abound, and the smart shopper will be on the lookout for the best deals.
Often, one store will have notebooks on sale for one cent, while another will have a great sale on pencils. Using coupons wisely can save you a ton of money; even if a coupon comes out after you’ve made a purchase, stores will typically honor them. Take your receipt and the coupon back to the store and get that better price.
8. Shop Early
If you start shopping early, you can get supplies little by little instead of pulling your hair out for hours at the store trying to wrangle kids and buy school supplies the week before school starts. Watch the weekly sales at all the stores in your community and purchase items as they are marked down.
Do you have a tax-free holiday? Many states have tax-free holidays around the start of school. Make sure to check whether your state has a tax-free holiday and go shopping during those times. Back-to-school time is exciting for everyone, but for parents, it can also be a financially stressful time of the year.
School starting doesn’t have to break the bank. Get your supply list, stick to it, and focus on saving money by following these tips. This school year might cost you less than any other.
Now, your turn! How do you save on school supply shopping?