Inside: Find out how to shop smart and get tips on how to save money on school supplies this year.
A new school year is coming up fast and you are going to want to figure out some ways to save money on school supplies, even if you have already budgeted for them. Otherwise, you will be looking at a long list of needs and your wallet will be weeping.
Getting the kids ready for the school year can be an expensive endeavor. And let’s not forget all the cool desk supplies that you your kids absolutely need because squeee! they are cute and on sale!
After going through this routine for a few years now, I thought I had a pretty good system down, but we had some changes this year. Here are a few things that ensure we are saving money on school supplies:
1. Take inventory
Take inventory of your current supplies including notebooks, notebook paper, backpacks, and lunch box supplies. There is no reason to buy duplicates if you already have some supplies on hand.
2. Check the list
Most schools will send out a supply list. Cross out anything you already have and then make another list of supplies still needed.
I have learned that if a school requests a certain brand or color of item (such as a certain brand of pencils, a particular brand of watercolor paper found only at one store, or large glue sticks that are NOT purple), they have their reasons.
For us, the pencils was because that brand seems to be less likely to break when being sharpened and the teachers feel the purple glue sticks don’t stick as well as the regular ones. And, OF COURSE, what the teachers like are the more expensive options.
3. Check with the school
Check with the school to see if you really need to stick to listed brands or if you can get your own thing. Also, if money is really tight, check with the secretary or teacher and see if there are some supplies that the school can cover for you. Schools often have programs in place for those in need.
4. Is there a flat fee option?
See if the school offers a flat-fee option. This year our elementary school is offering parents the option of paying a flat-fee for classroom supplies that they school will order or parents can buy their own supplies. With the fee, you are still on your own for child specific items such as backpack and lunchbox.
After doing some quick math in my head, I determined that the flat-fee option was actually a good deal. It was less money than I normally spend on supplies and would save me a lot of time. It will also save my daughter from having to lug in about 30 lbs of supplies the first day.
5. Can it wait?
Determine if some supplies can wait until mid-September, especially extra folders and notebooks.
Why would you want to wait? By early or mid-September, these will be deeply discounted and you can get enough to last the rest of the school year.
Hint: Put any extra supplies in one place so you know where to check when your child needs more.
6. Watch the sales
Check sales. Look at ads, check online and make note of advertised prices. Where do you find consistently good prices? If you need a case (10 reams) of paper, like we did last year, a trip to a store for just that one item on sale may be worthwhile.
7. Stock up
Watch for supplies that may need to be refreshed during the year or that get used at home as well. We often see pleas for more tissues or bandages in the spring, so picking up a few extra on sale is helpful. Later in the school year, your child may also need a new notebook or more pens.
Do you craft at home? School supply sales are an excellent time to stock up on construction paper, scissors, paint, and glue for holiday projects at home.
Related: 10 Reasons Costco is Worthwhile
8. Get together with friends
You may find some supplies easier to buy in bulk.
Our school consistently would ask for 2 large white (not purple) glue sticks. The best deal I could usually find for these was at Amazon in a bulk pack of 12. The option there was to either split the cost with other parents or save the box to reuse, as the request was asked by every teacher in every grade every year.
9. Wait on most clothes
Clothes generally can wait if they don’t need a uniform. The start of the school year is still warm and kids will want their summer clothes.
If you need uniforms OR if you want some basic dress pants or skirt for pictures or concerts, often you can find good deals during school sale season.
The other exception I’ve found is jeans. You can often find really good deals on jeans starting in August. Our kids hate this ritual, but in August we inventory their clothes by having them try on their current jeans/shirts/shoes/etc. so we know what needs replacing and can watch for great deals knowing what they actually need.
How are you preparing for school? Do you have any back-to-school shopping tips?