Whether we like it or not, school supplies can get expensive. From clothes to pencils, it can cost a bundle to send your kids back to school. There are some things you can do, though, to make it less financially painful. Here are some money-saving ideas for school supply shopping.
What’s Shared and What’s Not
Back when you were in school, your school supplies were yours, and usually consisted of pencils, pens, notebooks and binders, and paper. The school provided things like dry erase markers, paper towels, and chalk. Schools are cutting their budgets these days, though, so you may find yourself buying supplies that will be shared. Check your local school system’s website or give them a call and find out what supplies will be pooled and which ones will belong to your student.
Save on the Shared Items
If you know an item is going to be shared with the whole class, such as binders or dry erase markers, skip the fancy ones. Go with the more generic, cheap types.
Speaking of Sharing…
Consider buying items in bulk with a group. Find other parents and families who can go in with you to purchase supplies. They tend to be much cheaper in bulk, and buying large amounts and dividing them up can help save some money.
Look for coupons on manufacturer’s and retailer’s websites, and check your local newspaper. Combine the coupons with existing sales, and be willing to move on to the next retailer for the next sale rather than buying all your items at one place.
No Sales Tax
Many areas have a "no sales tax" day when you can buy items without this added tax. This is a good time to buy anything big, such as a small fridge for your college student, or electronics. The bigger the item, the more you save on sales tax. (This is another good time to buy in bulk with friends and family.) You can find the list of back to school tax free weekend dates here.
Don’t Forget the Dollar Store
Do you have a store where "everything’s a dollar"? If so, go there! You might be able to find a lot of school supplies for a fraction of what you’d pay at a major retailer.
There are a couple of advantages to starting your back-to-school shopping early. For one thing, you are more likely to get the supplies you want and need while stock is still plentiful. Another advantage to starting early is the sale prices. May stores have school supplies discounted early, while it’s still in the middle of summer.