School Supply Shopping Made Simple

Plans for back to school usually include lots of planning, and shopping!  Most schools will have a list of supplies your child will need.  If you’re lucky enough to get that list well in advance, you can skip the crowds and go early.  You may even get some great sales if you shop early enough.  But, before you head out, let’s take a look at a few ideas that could save you some steps, and some money.

If you have more than one child and they each have a separate list of school supply items, you’ll want to combine them all into one master list. Tally up the total number of notebooks needed.  Do the same for calculators, pencils, rulers, and everything.  When you get to the store, it will be easier to pick up a bundle of items than go back and forth filling each individual child’s list. Then, when you get home, you can divide up the items to give to each child using their own list.  This may also save you money since there are often deals on packs of folders, paper, pencils, and other supplies.  You can buy a pack of ten folders for less than you can buy a single folder.

Yes, glitter pens are cool and pencils with wacky patterns on them are really fun, but they cost more than basic pens and standard pencils. You will save a ton of money buying the basics rather than the fancy styles. You will want to double check your school’s list of supplies as some schools want only plain colored notebooks, folders, pens, and pencils, anyway.

If, however, your school allows for some fun with school supplies, it’s a lot cheaper to buy the plain supplies and dress them up with a small package of silly eraser tops to make pencils unique or stickers to decorate the folders. You can usually buy a package of embellishments to share between all the kids for a lot less money than buying decorative supplies.

Another great idea is to buy the basic school supplies in bulk. If you are going to save a bundle on pencils by purchasing 100 of them, then why not do it. You will always need them. You may also want to check with a friend or relative about going in together on bulk supplies.  If you and ten friends show up at the checkout at the same time each with a package of 10 pencils at twice the price as a package of 100 pencils, it just seems silly.

Getting a big-box-store card is a great idea as well. Go in together with a friend and save even more. Use it on school supplies, clothes, and other items throughout the year. Membership is usually pretty reasonable, especially if you can share it with a friend.    Watch your savings throughout the year and you’ll see the value really adds up fast.

Those ‘dollar stores’ have become a shopping sensation for a reason.  There are certain items that just aren’t worth more than $1 no matter how anyone tries to sell it.  Things like notebooks, paper, pencils, calculators, pens, and erasers just shouldn’t take a bite out of anyone’s budget.  There is no reason to spend $3 on a notebook when the very same item is available for $1.  Check out your local dollar store and you’ll save big money.

If you start shopping early, you can get supplies little by little instead of pulling your hair out for hours at the store trying to wrangle kids and buy school supplies the week before school starts.  Watch the weekly sales at all the stores in your community and purchase items as they are marked down.  Be sure to check with your school (most have websites now) for a list of school supplies needed.

It only takes one look at the weary faces of parents standing in line at the checkout, arms loaded with school supplies on the day before school starts, to realize there has got to be a better way.  Well, there is.  Get your list together, watch the sales, start early, and buy in bulk.  All these tips add up to savings and a calmer start to a new school year!

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