Remember the good ol’ days when all you needed for school was a pencil or pen, some paper and a scientific calculator? What happened to that?
Nowadays, it seems that school supply lists just keep getting longer and longer! If your child is in high school you’ve probably had to shell out $100 for one of those fancy Texas Instruments graphing calculators, and if your child is in elementary school you likely found yourself buying eight different types of coloring supplies.
Back to School shopping doesn’t have to hurt your wallet. In fact, there are loads of ways that you can save money on school supplies, and most of them are pretty easy and accessible.
Here are 6 money-saving tips for back to school shopping to get you started!
- Visit your local dollar store
This first one seems like a no-brainer, right? Go to the store where things are cheaper. Well, you’d be surprised! Many parents are completely unaware of how much the dollar store has to offer. The dollar store isn’t just a place from which you can buy off-brand candy bars and cheap favors for birthday parties. It actually sells a lot of very useful items, including notebook paper, pencils, crayons, markers, and folders.
- Ask other parents
Here’s one you probably didn’t think of—try asking other parents. Does your child need colored pencils? Perhaps one of their friend’s parents bought some for them last year and they no longer need them, and maybe you have something they might need as well. You could swap supplies!
Here’s an idea. Plan a school supply swap day and invite as many other parents as you know. The more parents you invite, the more likely you are to find supplies your child needs!
This idea is especially useful if your child is entering high school, and you know a parent whose child recently graduated. Odds are, they’ve got one of those expensive graphing calculators most high schools require, and they might be willing to sell it to you at a much lower price–or maybe even for FREE.
- Buy generic rather than brand-name school supplies
This one might be a little tricky if you have a picky child, but it can save you a TON of money! Next time you head over to the store, resist the temptation to buy that fancy stack of Five Star notebook paper, and instead, opt for the store brand paper. However, there are some instances in which we think you should opt for brand-name supplies. For example, brand-name mechanical pencils typically last longer, and have more durable erasers, so in a way you are actually saving money because you won’t have to go out and buy more pencils anytime soon.
- Take advantage of local community programs
It’s one thing if you’re just looking to save a few bucks on school supplies, but some parents just cannot afford school supplies. There are tons of community programs that provide free school supplies for low-income families. But where to start looking? Well, for starters, you should ask your school. Send an email to your child’s guidance counselor, or the school principal and ask if they know of any local community programs that provide school supplies.
You should also consider getting in touch with local food banks. Some food banks provide common household items, like pencils and paper, to low-income families in addition to food.
- Reuse! Reuse! Reuse!
We get it. When your kid comes running to you with a list of school supplies they need the day before school starts it can be very tempting to just run straight to the store, buy what they need, and be done with it!
Try and resist the urge to immediately go to the store, and instead look through those junk drawers of yours. You’re bound to find a few pens, pencils, erasers, paperclips and, if you’re lucky, maybe even some paper! Also, be sure you check your child’s backpack for unused paper, and any notebooks or folders that they can reuse.
- Wait until after school starts to go shopping
There are definitely a few essential school supplies your child needs on the first day of school (pencils, paper, etc.), but your child definitely doesn’t need everything immediately.
It makes more sense to buy those less vital items (crayons, markers, rulers, etc.) after school has already started. Wait a couple weeks and the clearance section at the store is bound to be full of colored pencils, finger paint, and gel pens! If you’re worried that waiting to buy these items might result in your child not being ready for class, then email their teacher and ask!
There you have it! Just follow any combination of these tips and you’re bound to cut down on school supply costs. Just to make sure you’re armed and ready to go out there and get those savings!