I’m new to this school thing. My oldest is going in to second grade so I’ve only had one year of buying school supplies under my belt. I will tell you though that I was on it the first year. Waiting for that school supply list was like Christmas morning for me. I couldn’t wait to tackle the necessities needed for my son’s first year of school. I bought the best of the best and even tucked in a few sheets of “Bravo!” stickers for his teacher. Oh, you too?
Fast forward to the summer before his second grade school year and I’m already finding ways to save on his long list of supplies. Here’s a few clever ways you can save too.
1. Shop early.
Most, if not all of your kids’ supplies are on sale during the summer. Stores are trying to get rid of old inventory to make room for the new, hot off the press products. I didn’t know this until I started paying attention to those clearance items while doing my weekly grocery trips. I started picking up post-it notes that somehow found their way onto to the shelves with $1 price tag. The only difference between those and the $3 to $4 sticky notes were the colors. Light blue as opposed to neon blue? I got this.
Remember how I told you that I bought the best of the best that first year? Once I saw how many pencils came back with my son at the end of the school year, I thought, there’s no way I’m buying another 24 pencils when I have somehow accumulated over 50. We spent an afternoon sharpening all of these pencils during quiet time and put them nicely in his new pencil box. Old with the new … I like that.
3. Buy generic when you can.
I usually leave the name brand stuff alone if I know the off-brand works just as well. I also shop around if I’m already out running other errands. I don’t make special trips to find better prices but just the other day I found myself at an office supply store getting some things printed when I saw a great sale on crayons. I picked up a few boxes and thought the cashier had actually rung them up wrong; they were even cheaper than what the sign advertised. Score!
4. Resale shops.
I never thought to scope out the local resale shops for back-to-school items but I was super excited when I found not one but two backpacks that were in pristine condition for less than $5 each. Once I saw how beat up my son’s got after just one year of school (not to mention I had paid $20+ on this specific superhero backpack) I quickly bought those and they are now ready to go for his second grade year and his sister’s second year of preschool.
5. Donate if you can.
I like saving money. But if I do find school supplies at a good price, I like to buy a few more and donate them to my kids’ teachers just in case there are any kids who can’t afford school supplies or maybe forgot theirs on the first day of school.
6. Dry erase markers.
Don’t you wish you could just erase some of those high prices from the packaging of these super expensive school supplies? Why are these markers so expensive? I don’t know the answer to that question but I do know how to save a little bit on these. First, always stock up if you see them on sale (summertime) and second, buy in bulk. It will be more money up front but cheaper per marker. Or, you can always split the package with a friend whose kids need the markers as well.
So grab a friend, load your kids in the car, and head out early for your school supplies this year. If you’re late to the game, no worries, they’ll be another school year starting before you know it.
Meagan Ruffing is ready to send her children off to school with shiny new and not-so-new things. When she’s not out shopping for a good deal, you can find her at the computer writing about all things parenting-related. Visit her at meaga