Back to school season means back to school supplies. New school supplies are always fun to get however, the long list of recommended supplies from teachers can add up quickly. Luckily, there are many ways to save money on your list, all it takes is a little bit of planning and research.
Assess what’s needed
Sometimes the lists are wish lists, not needs list. Think of your student and how they operate. Do they actually use white-out, or do they just cross out corrections on a paper? Will they need a hole punch, or does their teacher typically have one they can use? In some cases, you can eliminate several things on the list by being realistic about what your student actually needs. If school starts and it turns out they actually do need a certain item, you can always get it later.
Look through last year’s supplies
At the end of the school year, backpacks are likely to get tucked away with all of last year’s school supplies. Before going out to buy brand new supplies, consider the supplies your child already has. Can you get another year of use out of their backpack? Are their pens, pencils, and other supplies good for another year. It might take a little TLC to get them back into working condition (pencil sharpener, anyone?), but it could save you a lot of money to first take stock of what you already have.
Buy supplies out of season
The end of a school year, or early in the summer when no one is thinking about back-to-school season may be the best time to buy supplies. If you start scouting early, you may also be able to hit discounts throughout the summer.
Certain retailers may offer the same exact item for a cheaper price. It doesn’t hurt to do a quick google search to see what else is available. You may even be able to ask a certain retailer to price match the product.
Sign up for store emails and follow them on social media
Emails from retailers are likely the first place you’ll hear about discounts and deals. Sign up to receive their updates, and you can be on the lookout for good deals. You can also follow brands on social media like Twitter, Instagram or Facebook to get the latest updates on their sales.
Try using money-saving apps
Check the dollar store
Before heading to top retailers for school supplies, make sure to swing by your local dollar store. Often, they will have the exact products you’re looking for at a fraction of the price.
Buying used can be especially helpful when purchasing electronics. Technology is used in the classroom more than ever before and it can be a huge expense. Visit websites like eBay or Craigslist or go to your local Best Buy or apple store to ask about refurbished products. You may also be able to find other supplies at thrift stores, like backpacks, clothing, shoes and more.
Try a supply swap
It’s likely that there are other people you know who are also trying to save money on supplies who would be open to a trade, or possibly even giving you hand-me-downs. Check in with your friends and family who have school aged children and ask them what supplies they may be willing to part with.
Some states offer a tax-free weekend that typically falls in the summer. This can be particularly helpful for high ticket items like laptops, calculators and other technology. Check to see if your state offers a tax-free weekend and plan to do your shopping then.
Talk to your kids about a budget or ask them to contribute to their supplies
Many kids have an allowance that they are able to use to spend on items they really want. It may be reasonable to explain to them that you will help them buy the basic school supplies, but if they want anything extra on the list, like a new backpack (when last year’s works just fine), or new fancy erasers, etc. they can use their own money to buy it.
Ultimately, back to school is an exciting time and school supplies are a fun part of the process. It’s totally possible to buy supplies without breaking the bank, and still setting your student up for success.