Top Five Ways to Save on School Supplies

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sending children to school on the first day with a backpack full of supplies could cost a lot of money, but it doesn’t have to. Here are my top five ways to make the most of your Back to School dollars!

Conduct an Inspection

Many times, school supplies come home with your kids at the end of the school year. Check around your house for items that may have come home at the beginning of summer, like scissors, glue, crayons, markers and watercolor paint sets in good condition. Label them with your child’s name and put them in a box or small tote until school starts. Be sure to mark them off your child’s school supply list so that you know you don’t need to buy those items.

Get Your Child's Input

Now that you know what school supplies you need to buy, decide beforehand what you will and will not spend money on. For example, this year I will buy backpacks for my two boys, but I won’t be buying lunchboxes since we have a variety of them still in good shape. If my kids want a new lunch bag, they will have to buy one themselves.

It will help save your sanity if your kids have this information before going to buy school supplies. Make a list of needed supplies based on the school supply list provided by your child’s school. Set a reasonable budget for what you’d like to spend on each item and share it with your child.

Store Deals

Before heading out to actually buy the supplies, peruse store ads and manufacturer coupons found in the Sunday paper. Write down the best deals you see on the school supply list, noting the name of the store and the prices of the items on your list.

To save more money, combine a store sale or coupon with a manufacturer coupon. While looking through manufacturer coupons in the Sunday ads, cut out and keep any coupons that can be used for school supplies. See if you can match them with a store sale. Another resource involves internet printable coupons. Search the web for specific items, such as “coupon for Sharpies,” to see if there are coupons you can print and use with a store special.

Go In with a Friend

Sometimes you can get the absolute best price on products when you buy in bulk and use a combination of store specials and manufacturer coupons. But who needs twelve boxes of tissue or ten dozen pencils? Unless you have space for an abundance and want to keep them, consider buying supplies and splitting the cost with your friends who are also looking for great deals on Back to School items.

I’m usually able to get school supplies dirt cheap by shopping this way, and I end up with more than I need. There are also times when I get products for free. I like to make donations for needy families or for teachers whose budgets have been slashed in our current economy. I don’t want school supplies sitting in my house when they can be put to good use!

Delay Some Purchases

Throughout the summer, I concentrate my energy on finding school supplies specifically. School clothes are not necessary since warm weather lasts well into October, so I put it off. Since I buy clothing out of season, my kids also already have a stockpile of pants and shirts to grow into. If you are just starting to buy kids’ clothes out of season, look for clearance prices and shop your local thrift stores – you’ll be surprised by the great deals you can find!

Kelly Wilson is an editor with Teaching Resource Center, a high-quality source for Teacher Supplies and free Teachers' Lesson Plans

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