One of the expenses you don’t always think about as you consider the cost of raising kids are school supplies. And for 13+ years (depending on if you child attends a preschool program,) you are responsible for an assortment of the supplies used in the classroom. These seemingly small costs can add up quickly.
Because we have always homeschooled, I’ve had a bit of sticker shock this year when I saw all that was required for the different grades.
Saving Money on School Supplies
There are several ways to save money when buying school supplies.
- Tricia wrote about Tax Free Shopping Days states offer at the beginning of the school year. And many stores offer additional discounts on those same days.
- If you have more than one child, buying in bulk may be the way to go! I know our local Sams Club has a whole section of back to school supplies.
- Buy used. No I’m not suggesting you send your child to school with the nubs of used pencils or markers that barely write. But seriously, rip out the used pages from the spiral binders. Let them paint or color their 3-ring binder and re-use it. Ask around for a family that no longer needs those expensive scientific calculators.
- Family Dollar stores are currently (as of 7/21/18) offering 70% off school supplies.
There are lots of options for saving money on your child’s school supply needs. But what about saving your sanity?
Save Time and Your Mind
We’ve all been to the grocery store and heard a child (of all ages) with the “Gimmees!” Give me this, give me that. I need this, I must have that.
Now picture that on the school supply shopping aisle, time fifty. All the new and shiny school supplies. Bright colors, different “cool” things this year.
Not to mention, depending on when you shop, the lack of organization, misplaced items, out of stock items.
It can be overwhelming to even the most experience parent. I’ve got to words for you: SHOP ONLINE!
- Walmart.com has a fantastic website and app that allows you to shop from the comfort of your home, your car or while you are out to eat. Then you just walk in and pick up your order! And, hey, you can take care of that week’s grocery shopping at the same time. They even offer free shipping with orders of a certain amount.
- Amazon.com offers anything you could imagine, free shipping if you are a Prime Member. While I adore Amazon, I do recommend shopping around, their prices are not always the most competitive. You are paying a premium for convenience at times.
Make It Last
About the time my kids got to middle school age, I started making better financial decisions. (Yes, I know I’m a slow starter.) But it was then that I learned to invest in quality over fashion when it comes to some of our school stuff.
I learned that spending a little extra of name brand items for certain supplies was worth it. Believe me, not all crayon brands are created alike.
But one of my biggest long term savings was investing in good quality backpacks. Thankfully, they had all outgrown the desire to have the latest cartoon character on their backpack. Instead, we focused on protection for their electronics, brand reputation and cost.
I even bought myself one, and as I sit writing this in the local coffee shop, it sits beside me. Each child had specific wants and I made sure all the needs were met.
And I’m happy to say that here we are 4 or so years later, and they are all still using the same backpack. Those $60 investments paid off.
What tips and tricks have you found for purchasing school supplies? Are you an online shopper or do you brave the crazy school supply aisle? Does your child go with you or are you a solitary shopper?