Plans for back to school usually include lots of shopping and the more kids you have, the more shopping you’ll most likely need to do! As a mom of 4, I know firsthand how crazy back to school shopping can be. I also know that it gets crazier, more stressful, and more expensive if you wait til the last minute.
Most schools will have a list of supplies your child will need. Before you head out, let’s take a look at a few ideas that could save you some steps and some money.
1. Make a Master List
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 else on the list. 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.
2. Take inventory
Do you have a cabinet or closet in your home where you keep school and office supplies? Go through and take inventory of what you have and compare it to your master list. Using what you already have can save you a lot of money! Also, check your kids backpacks and lunch boxes. If they are in good working order, there’s no need to purchase a new one.
3. Stick to the basics
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. If your school is ok with fun 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 already decorated school supplies.
4. Shop early…and don’t do it all at once
If you start shopping early, you can get supplies little by little instead of spending hours at the store pulling your hair out while trying to wrangle kids and checking off a mile-long list. If you watch the weekly sales at all the stores in your community, you can purchase supplies for pennies on the dollar. Purchase only the supplies that are on sale each week and by the time school starts, you’ll most likely have everything you need! Be sure to check with your school (most have websites now) for a list of school supplies needed.
5. Buy in bulk
If you have lots of kids, you may be able save a bundle by buying in bulk. You can often purchase a pack of 100 pencils for the same price as 3 packs of 10. You will always need pencils, so you may as well get a good deal on them. If you don’t have lots of kids, consider going in with a friend or relative to buy supplies. If you have a membership to a store like Costco or Sam’s Club, you can use it to save on school supplies, clothes, and other items throughout the year. Membership is usually pretty reasonable and sometimes you can even find special deals. Watch your savings throughout the year and you’ll see the value really adds up fast.
6. Check out your local dollar stores
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. Dollar stores are also a great source for stickers and other fun embellishments to dress up boring school supplies. Check out your local dollar store and you’ll save big money.
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, take stock of what you have, 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!
For tips on saving money on back to school clothing shopping, check out 8 Ways to Save on Back to School Clothes.