School supplies then and now
The pricetag on a basic middle class lifestyle just seems to keep exploding all over the place! College tuition continues to increase at twice the rate of inflation, weddings cost an average of $27K (which is more than a college education used to cost), it costs over $10K just to give birth, and the overall cost of raising a child has risen 40%. Figures like this can make your head spin. The trick is to maintain your equilibrium and be strategic rather than reactionary about how you’re spending money on your kids.
Buying school supplies
The modern classroom is evolving, and it isn’t always easy on parents’ wallets. A lot has changed over the past couple of decades in the public education system, and technology has been the driving force that’s ramped up the cost of sending a child to public schools. Now, instead of paying with mere pocket change pencils and notebooks, families wonder how they will pay for iPads, laptops and other digital learning devices. While these items may not be required for school, most parents want their children to be able to keep up with trends in technology.
When trying to budget for a laptop or other device, you can trim expenses in other areas.
Shop for supplies online
Your biggest savings may come from buying electronic devices online, where competition is greatest and prices can be conveniently compared, but don’t ignore the value of buying smaller items online as well. Pencils, pens, notebooks and other basics are available at most online stores selling school and office supplies. Not only could the prices be lower online, but if you spend enough you might be rewarded with free shipping.
Stick to the essentials
Some schools break down supply lists into two categories: required and optional. While the optional supplies can be nice, they aren’t necessary to get your child through the school year. She can likely make due by borrowing the supplies from other classmates or using the classroom supplies available.
Check for education credits or low-income assistance to purchase big items
Some schools have been awarded grant money to supply the student body with iPads or other tablets, while others have funds on reserve to help low-income families who have no way of paying for the devices. If your child’s school wasn’t fortunate enough to be awarded such a grant, it’s worth asking your child’s teachers or administrators if there is a program in place for aiding low-income families.
Consider e-Books instead of physical textbooks
If there’s no way around buying an iPad or other tablet PC, there are still opportunities to save by taking advantage of what these devices can do. One you know what textbooks are required for your child’s class, look into purchasing digital copies of those books rather than the physical copy. Digital textbooks are generally more affordable than print, especially for college students, and they come with the convenience of having every book in one small device.
Find school supplies coupons and save
Websites offer sizable deals on a variety of services and products, and some of those sites cater specifically to education needs. Go online to find the best places for electronics coupons and register with daily deals sites to be the first to hear about big-time savings. Some coupons can even apply to the electronic devices required by your school.
Use the school’s computer lab as a resource
Most schools and universities have computer labs available to the student body. Students can use labs when they need to write papers or complete assignments that require a computer. Some labs may offer tablets or laptops that can be checked out and borrowed for a certain length of time. Even if these devices aren’t available, or if they have to remain in the lab, a computer lab can be invaluable to students who lack the funds to purchase their own electronic devices. Students may be able to get through the entire school year without buying a laptop or other computing device.
In the end, school supply costs are unavoidable. Parents who went to school before computers and tablets became a necessity in the classroom probably struggle with the idea of having to buy such expensive school supplies. And with college expenses rising, it’s putting the squeeze on students and families seeking a better education and a better life. But employing even a few of these simple tricks could lead to big savings that relieve some of the stress of buying school supplies.