colorful school supplies

Tips for Saving Money on Back to School Supplies

Fall might bring falling leaves and trips to the apple orchard for cider and donuts, but it can also bring a whole lot of stress, especially when it comes to back to school. As your student gets ready for a new year, you’re overwhelmed with new school forms, back to school physicals, sports sign up forms, and of course, the dreaded back to school list.

Back to school lists seem to be getting longer and longer, with students expected to show up with everything from whiteboard markers to tissues. Wondering how to save money on school supplies?

Just because your list gets longer every year doesn’t mean that you have to spend more. With back to school shopping sales and some creative reuse, there are many ways to save on school supplies.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

It’s not just about going green (although, let’s face it, reusing that compass and ruler for another year can keep more plastic out of the landfill!), reducing, reusing, and recycling can offer serious back to school shopping savings.

While back to school shopping has become an annual tradition, and one of the busiest shopping seasons of the year, the fact is that your little one might not need all new everything each year. You might be able to save some back to school coin by scouting your own home—and your kiddo’s backpack—for needed items that can be recycled or reused.

For example, while you might have to shell out for new pencils, erasers, and notebooks, there are some school supplies that will last year after year. For example, while a new backpack might be nice, some backpacks are durable enough to be used for several years. Getting a backpack back in tip-top shape and looking like new could be as simple as giving it a good scrub.

Likewise, many simple school tools can be reused year after year. Check out last year’s calculators, rulers, pencil bags, protractors and compasses, binders, mechanical pencils, and pens to see if any can be salvaged and put back to work this year.

Many mechanical pencils can be refilled—both with lead and erasers. Some pens will accept a new ink cartridge instead of being replaced entirely. If school items are soiled after a year and a summer riding around in a backpack, gently wipe them off with a wet cloth.

Shop Smart, Save Big

While you may be tempted to turn back to school shopping into a timed sprint, it pays to slow down and do some planning before running to your nearest big box store. Securing the best deal on back to school shopping may require a bit of shopping around.

Say, for example, a store is having a back to school deal with five notebooks for a buck, you might be tempted to rush over and get your back to school shopping done at the store where you know you can get a great deal on notebooks.

But is the rest of what you’re buying a great deal? You might be missing out on the opportunity to save some cash if you’re doing all your back to school shopping at a single store.

Instead of doing all your shopping at a single store, spend some time pouring over sales to make sure you know where you can get the best deal on everything you need.

One way to keep track of what you need from each store is to take your child’s back to school list and highlight each item in a different color according to which store has the best deal.

That way you can knock out your list while hitting two or three stores while being assured that you’re both getting the best deal and making sure everything gets checked off on that list.

Buy In Bulk

If you have more than one kid, school supply shopping can quickly eat up an entire paycheck. Instead of getting each kiddo their own package of pens and pencils, or buying binder filler paper 100 pages at a time, consider the benefits of buying in bulk.

Just like buying food in bulk, buying back to school supplies in bulk could help cut down on costs, and lets you easily outfit all your kiddos with everything they need to rock the school year.

Only have one kid? Consider teaming up with another family to split the costs of back to school supplies. Or you could consider stocking up on bulk pencils and notebooks and stashing the extras away until it’s time to refill and refresh halfway through the year.

Venture Beyond the Back to School Aisle

Big box stores often create a specific seasonal section for all their back to school products so that you don’t have to run all over the store looking for the perfect lunchbox and calculator. Convenient, right? Well, before you start filling your cart with boxes of crayons and notebooks from the back to school section, consider cruising the rest of the store for deals.

Sometimes similar products can be found spread throughout the store at lower prices. For example, if you’re looking for backpacks, check the travel section for durable bags without the back to school markup.

For pens and pencils, check the office supply aisle—you might just find that you get more for your money if you’re willing to think outside the back to school aisle. Some stores might even have clearance sections where you may be able to find a few necessities at a discounted price.

Time It Right

Know how you can stock up on peanut butter cups and jelly beans at a deep discount as soon as Easter is over? Well, the same is true for school supplies.

If you wait until slightly after the school year starts, you might be able to snag up all the markers and notebooks your heart desires at a serious discount. Of course, waiting until after the school year starts isn’t the only way to save.

Most large stores plan large sales for the back to school season, where you can find unbelievable deals, like Staples’ infamous eight pencils for a single penny sale.

Checking out the stores’ sales flyers in advance can let you know exactly when and where to go to tackle your back to school list. Planning around sales is an easy way to save when it comes to back to school.

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