Back to school supplies can be very expensive. You can spend over $600 on an elementary kid, $1000 on a middle-scholar and nearly $1500 for a high school student. This puts the average cost of back to school supplies at about $1000.
That is a few dollars short of the average U.S monthly mortgage rate!
Taking into account the ever-increasing cost of fees and extracurricular activities, saving even a single dollar becomes important. Here are some tips on how to save money on back to school supplies.
Start at Home/Office
- Make use of what is available from home first before buying anything. Some items like backpacks and pouches can be used for several years. Older siblings can also hand-down what they no longer use.
- Go through your office drawers for those pens and pencils you got from conferences and seminars. Make use of office supplies that pile up on your drawers and probably end up in the trash.
- Back to school shopping weighs heavily on most parents. These include your co-workers and neighbors. Organizing supplies swaps in your community or office can save all of you some money.
- Your high school teenager can do with your old laptop or a refurbished one. Buying him a new one will earn you praises, well….until he drops it.
Go for Cheaper Options
- Garages sales can offer quality supplies at cheap prices. This is where you will find slightly used backpacks, school kits and even stationary for a few dollars.
- Thrift stores can also be a good source of cheap supplies. Many of these establishments usually run back to school sales near the end of summer.
- Consignment stores work by pooling goods from different people/suppliers. This model allows you to shop for most if not all back to school supplies in one place. The stores are also cheaper and offer quality products.
- Shopping during a tax holiday is one of the must-know tips for parents. Most of these sales happen in July and August; the very time when you are probably shopping for back to school. It’s up to you to find out when they happen and which items are tax-exempt.
- Keep discounted gift cards and coupons during the semester; use them on school supplies during summer sales. This combination will save you money on top-dollar items.
- Dollar stores come in handy for most school supplies. Basics like pens, pencils, notebooks, and erasers are usually in stock and at a bargain especially when bought in bulk.
- Check if your school has a supplies exchange program. This works by having parents donate used or new items that their kids no longer need. These are then given to other parents in exchange for other donations or small fees.
Practice Smart Shopping Tactics
- Only buy items on the school’s list of supplies. This can save you money on unnecessary purchases. The list is usually mailed to parents or posted on the school’s website.
- Beware of store-recommended back to school supplies. This is geared towards sales targets not saving you money.
- Shopping with your kid can be fun; however, the experience can turn out to be expensive. The items that kids fuss over are usually the flashy, branded and costly ones which they may not even need. If possible, always try to shop alone.
- Avoid branded merchandise. A SpongeBob branded backpack will cost more than a regular plain one, even when the former is on sale.
- Make your kid dig into his allowance to top-up for any extras. This will not only save you money but it will also teach him how to prioritize his needs.
- Keep the school’s supply list with you at all times. Have it in your wallet or saved in your phone. This way, you can always consult it whenever you run into a sale.
- Bulk buying will save you lots of money in the long run. If you got 3 kids at home, why not buy whole packs of pens and pencils. These will last longer and cost less compared to buying in pieces.
When it comes to buying school supplies, parents forget one thing; it not their supplies. Try and involve your kids in the budget-making process. Not only do they know what they want, but you will be surprised at how good they can be in saving you some money.