After reading your child’s school supplies list, are you contemplating pawning your valuables to cover the cost? Thick and thin washable markers, along with highlighters and dry-erase markers, too. Reams of paper. Notebooks – some with clear plastic covers, others with pockets, all with three rings. And, of course, a box of crayons. But 16 colors, 160 colors, or somewhere in between? There’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars on school supplies. Follow these tips to save money – and your sanity!
Check Your List Twice
Make sure you purchase only what the teacher requests. If the school supply list states “4 red correcting pens” then buy only four instead of a jumbo pack of 24. And a simple red pen will do. Retractables and translucent barrels and red gel pens are all nifty, but completely unnecessary and too expensive for your proofreading third grader.
Get Creative with Your Substitutions
Your teacher has asked that you send in an art smock. While a waterproof one with pockets and adjustable straps and even a fancy pattern is pretty, it’s also pricey. Go retro and dig out a cool T-shirt from Dad’s drawer. It will keep your child’s clothes protected from paint and it’s easy on your pocketbook, too.
Go Green! Recycle Last Year’s Goods
A calculator, a pencil pouch, a ruler, and scissors can be used from one year to the next. And get a second life from other items on the school supplies list, too. Your child’s colored pencils may not be new, but with some sharpening, they certainly can be enjoyed for months – and maybe the entire school year. Get creative and transform a tired notebook into one adorned with fabric, laminated pictures, or self-adhesive jewels and wiggly eyes. And delete old school work from your flash drive to make room for upcoming assignments.
Share the Cost
With school budget cuts, teachers are requesting much more than academic aids and art supplies. Families are being asked to outfit classrooms with disinfectant wipes, hand soap, paper towels, and tissues. Instead, collect $5 from each family in your child’s class and buy in bulk.
Buy Over Time to take Advantage of Sales
While your child may prefer to stride into class with a backpack bursting with lavish school supplies, spread out the fun. Talk with the teacher to understand which items are needed immediately, and then purchase only those items. Everything else? Before buying, scour the Internet for coupon codes. Be on the lookout for local sales. And download a free price-comparison app that reveals the lowest price for notebooks, pencils, and other school supplies.
Make Saving a Community Effort
You are not alone – families in your school are eager to save on school supplies, too. At the end of every school year, designate a drop off spot and encourage students and teachers to donate leftover glue sticks, markers, half-used pencils, pocket folders, and other items. Over the summer, tell your district what was collected so they can allocate to the classrooms – and ask less from families come fall.
Have tips for saving money on school supplies? Please share them with us!
Guest post contributed by Stacy Pulliam for iNetGiant. Stacey is a freelance writer and personal shopping assistant for online entrepreneurs. Her articles appear on various shopping blogs.