School supplies can be a big expense at this time of year. Hear are some tips from the ThriftyFun community. What are your ideas for saving money on school supplies?
I shop the loss leaders at the grocery and drug stores. The supermarket had folders for .02 each (with a minimum $10 grocery purchase, which I was making anyway). Notebook paper is frequently a loss leader for .25 or so. I buy only what is on special at each store. And always stock up on stuff they'll need next year when it's marked down at the end of the season.
We keep a plastic tub (a large one) with notebook paper, folders, report covers, printer paper, construction paper, pencils, pens, erasers, markers and any other supplies. We buy all the supplies as we find them, at garage sales, thrifty shops, and on clearance at shops and office supply stores. Then there is very little to buy when school starts or during the year. It saves many special "having to pay the price" trips just for more paper or a folder. It has saved us lots of money over the years. There is always something in there that will fit the need.
This idea is about the pencils with "writing" on them, put a sticker around the pencil where the writing is. Or dab some paint on the whole pencil, get creative. After putting on a bit glue, wind embroidery floss tightly on them. Other kids may want to copy the "cool" pencils.
I watch for sales and only buy the supplies that I know we will use. I stock up on the items that I find really cheap so that we can have it for the whole year (summer included). WalMart has lots of stuff on sale like the crayons and glue for 25 cents each and 1-subject notebooks for 10 cents each. The kids don't need 3-or 5-subject notebooks, so the 1-subject ones do just fine. Big Lots has really cheap stuff for school, too. They even have little kid scissors for 25 cents. I found a bunch of stuff at Staples this year for 5 cents. What a find. Pencils, erasers, and rulers.
Another thing that I do is stock up on extra glue, glue sticks, scissors, tape, crayons, construction paper, very cheap backpacks or tote bags, etc. When Christmas or a birthday party comes that my child is invited to, I just throw together an activity bag. The kids love to get craft stuff and I don't have to run around wondering what I should buy for this other kid that I hardly know, and it is usually at a time when I have no money, so it works out great.
Hope this helps.
I have found a few ways to save money on school supplies.
Firstly, establish the family ethic that function, not fashion, will determine the choices. The only way any item with Lisa Frank's artwork comes into this house is if I find it in a clearance bin at a discount of 40% or more, and it is not extreme. The same goes for items with any currently or recently sought-after pictures or patterns. In other words, it has to cost less than the generic-looking ones, and it has to be something we would have liked regardless of hype. Also, we feel we have the privilege of setting our own fashions when we choose. So, when time allows, we might use some stickers or adhesive-back shelf paper from my stash. For instance, when I got my daughter a bicycle helmet that was a boring blue, I gave her some flower stickers to jazz it up. My son preferred the bug stickers. All the stuff in my stash, by the way, has been bought second hand or on sale.
We do not pay for top quality in items that are soon to be lost or damaged. We have just one giant set of Crayola's at at time, and that lives in my craft dresser. When the occasion warrants, I allow the children to use these, but only if they use them at the dining room table, and put them away as soon as they are done. For all other uses, we buy a cheap kind, like RoseArt. And last Christmas, I found eight boxes of 64 RoseArt crayons, in a special set that was discontinued, on a clearance cart. I bought up all eight, and tucked them away until needed. The back to school sales in all the department and discount stores are the last resort for me. I shop ahead for things I know will be needed year after year. Many of the most basic supplies are also used in offices; #2 pencils, pens, highlighters, 3-ring binders, etc. So, it is often possible to find them in bulk from business supply stores and catalogs. It is not that difficult to figure what basic supplies are appropriate to the age of your children. Buy them in quantity, because most of them are suitable for several years of school.
For instance, you know that by second grade, they will need a constant supply of #2 pencils. By about fourth grade, they will need loose leaf note book paper and binders to keep it in, and pens. The high school student may have discovered the advantages of a legal pads for taking notes during lectures. Steno pads are also handy by about middle school, to tuck inside a loose leaf binder, and use for personal and homework reminders, correspondence, doodles, and other things that don't belong in the notes of a particular class. The best bargain I've found yet on pencils is the gross of left-overs from custom printers. You get all kinds of things, like misprinted promotional ones from businesses you never heard of, and cutesy ones with other people's names stamped on them, but children lose pencils so fast it does not matter.
Some items I simply do not buy. Pencil boxes get lost or broken, as do pocket-size pencil sharpeners. "Anything" made of brittle plastic will be broken, if not by your child, then by some other child. "Anything" that is not convenient to carry will be set down and forgotten, or will slide out of hands at the worst moment. The sturdiest book covers are made from plain brown grocery bags or mailing paper; as an added benefit, they can be personalized, or homework notes can be written on them. Other items are kept at home and rationed out as needed, like erasers, pencils, and extra packs of loose leaf paper.
Rose B, mother of three, in NC
We are very tight this year and I have found that we already own most of the things that the kids need, they needed to go through their stash in their rooms and I, my drawers. Last years backpack works this year as well.
If only I could stop them from growing. (08/18/2007)
Take the kids to the local home show, health fair, or garden show. Vendors are happy to give away free pencils, rulers, pens, note pads, book marks, book covers, mini first aid kits, sticky notes, calendars, and many more items you need. Think about possible subjects for the science fair before you get there and pick up pamphlets on recycling, health, gardening, and water conservation. It's endless. Just remember, one per "customer". (08/18/2007)
At the start of school this year, get supply lists for the grades your kids will be in "next" year. That will give you an idea of what you'll need when this issue comes around again.
Buy your supplies in early August, even if you don't have specific lists yet.
If your state has a sales tax holiday, buy everything you can during that period.
Start putting away $2 per kid per week, now, in a bank, for school supplies next year.
Remember: food, sodas, snacks, curtains, and clothes are not school supplies. Don't let yourself be conned. (08/20/2007)
LL Bean backpacks are the only ones I buy now. I purchased my oldest son a monogrammed one for his high school freshman year. By graduation day, the bag still looked truly amazing. It had a pocket/zipper/hole for everything. Search for Turbo Transit Pack on: www.llbean.com.
I even purchased one for myself last Christmas.
LL Bean products carry a 100% satisfaction guarantee. You can return anything, at anytime. Gotta love that. (05/26/2008)
I am going to be a senior in High school, and have been using this tip for as long as I can remember:
Rarely have I ever used a whole notebook for a single class (except math). So when a class is finished, all I do is rip out all the pages from that class, and there I have a newish notebook. Now I am still using up notebooks I bought four years ago for a school list. This helps the pocket and the environment. (08/24/2008)
By Nicola C.
Don't buy anything with characters on it. That way unless it becomes damaged they can use it next year. We are using the same backpack and lunch boxes from last year and if they are still in good shape next year they will use them again.
Office supply stores like Staples have items like pencil and pen packs, and folders for less than a $1 some things are 10 - 15 cents.
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