Six Simple Ways to Save on School Supplies
The items you buy during back-to-school shopping season at the beginning of fall generally don’t last the entire school year and now that Winter Break is over, your child needs some more school supplies to get through the next semester. If your wallet is still recovering from the holidays, the thought of buying even more stuff may not sound appealing but there are a few ways you can cut back on the cost of school supplies for your kids:
Step one: head to the clearance aisle at your local department store, whether it’s Target, Walmart, or another major chain that sells office and school supplies. Since crayons, notebooks, highlighters, and other school-related items aren’t in particularly high demand in the middle of the school year you should be able to snag some sweet deals. If you have an older student, the clearance aisle at the college bookstore might also have some great discounts on everything from notebooks to planners and winter apparel (clearing their shelves for the incoming summer apparel).
Another simple way of saving on school supplies is buying items used. Why pay $50+ for a backpack when you could find one at a local thrift shop or garage sale for a couple dollars or less? Backpacks and book bags don’t last forever but you don’t need to be spending hundreds of dollars on them over the course of your kid’s K-12 career. The “buy used” principle also applies to items like electronics, books, and dresses or suits for Winter Formal (and other school dances).
School Supply Co-op
Buying in bulk is another great way to save on school supplies, but your child probably doesn’t need 100+ pens and pencils to get through the rest of the year. As an alternative, you could get together with a few other parents and split the costs of school supplies amongst yourselves (this is especially helpful with books and textbooks, since more and more schools are asking parents to pay for them out of pocket). Whether you do this with your child’s classmates’ parents or the families you carpool with during the school week, this is one of the most cost-effective ways for everybody to save on school supplies.
Although stores aren’t having huge back-to-school sales like they do in August and September, you can still find several discounts and coupons on school items throughout the year. Check with your local department or office supply store for physical coupons, or go online to SumoCoupon for printable coupons on everything from stationary to writing tools.
Quality over Quantity
The academic year is halfway over, but with five or so months left to go, you’ll want to invest in some longer-lasting school supplies. For instance, mechanical pencils cost more upfront but last longer because you can simply add more lead, rather than constantly buying new pencils as each one gets sharpened down to the eraser. This also applies to pens (just replace the ink cartridges), lunch bags and bottles (cheaper and more environmentally friendly over the long run if you buy a durable bag and bottle rather than use brown bags and plastic bottles every day)
As mentioned previously, more schools are asking parents to shoulder the costs of books these days and these costs can really start to add up, even if you’re buying from Amazon. To save on books and shipping, consider buying ebooks instead. They’re often cheaper than physical copies of the book and in much better reading condition (you don’t have to deal with ripped pages, in-text markings, etc.). As an added bonus, they’re downloadable immediately so your child won’t fall behind in class while waiting for their book to arrive in the mail.