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9 Ways to Save Money on Back-to-School Supplies

July 29, 2022

9 Ways to Save Money on Back-to-School Supplies 

Every year, the average American household spends over $800 on school supplies. That's a good chunk of change any time, but the past year or so has been particularly hard on families. Many parents will, no doubt, be looking for ways to shave a few bucks off of their back-to-school budget this year. Here are nine ways to do just that. 

1. Make a list.

The very first thing you should do is make a list of must-haves only, and make up your mind to stick to it. Sticking to the bare necessities may not be as much fun, but it is much easier on your wallet. 

2. What's old is new again.

Before heading out to the shops, check around your home. What is left over from last year? Is that backpack still in great shape? A bottle of Elmer's from the craft-supply box? Does your little one still have a pencil box full of crayons? Do you have loose pens rattling around in a desk drawer? Gather all of these together and see how much of them are on your list; you might be surprised.  

3. Cheap is good, quality is better.

You may be tempted to buy the cheapest box of crayons in the store, assuming you are saving money by doing so. However, these crayons will be useless if they are too waxy to color with. The least expensive box of pencils may seem like the best deal, until you realize that the lead is constantly breaking, and you end up having to buy more. Low prices are great, but don't sacrifice good quality; it will only cost you more later. 

4. Don't buy everything in one place.

School shopping can be stressful, and it's tempting to buy everything in one place and get it over with. However, if you are on a mission to spend as little as possible, you will definitely benefit from doing some research and buying different supplies from different stores. One store may have 50 cent notebooks, but another store has $1 packs of pencils. Hit up multiple places to get the best deals on all of your supplies. 

5. Hit up local thrift stores.

People don't often think of thrift stores when it comes to shopping for school supplies, but they are actually a great idea for a family on a budget. Clothes, backpacks, lunch boxes, binders, rulers, calculators, and general office supplies are all items that are often sold in thrift stores, and often still as good as new. 

6. Tax-Free Weekends.

Several states have weekends, usually near the start of the school year, when children's clothes, shoes, and school supplies can be purchased for no sales tax. These tax-free holidays are a huge help to families on a budget, and can save you up to 10% on your purchases. Use this time to buy items that are already on sale for even more savings. 

7. Cutting Coupons.

The coupon craze of a few years ago may be over, but that doesn't mean that it is no longer a valuable thing to do. Clipping coupons from the Sunday paper or scouring the internet for downloadable savings is still popular. Look for coupons for specific items that are already on your list. Coupling a coupon with an item that is on sale in the store is the best way to save the most money. 

8. Stock up.

One great way to save money on school supplies for the entirety of the school year is to stock up while the prices are low. There are always many amazing deals to be found around the start of the school year. Why not take advantage of this and buy extra, so that when your student eventually needs another notebook or new pens, you'll already have it covered, and you'll have paid less? 

     9. Giveaways

If you are truly in dire straits, and you fear you cannot purchase all the needed supplies yourself, fear not. Many places have local organizations that help struggling families get the school supplies they need, and there are national organizations that help with this as well. The Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the United Way are two such organizations, among many others. Local churches and charities often have drives for school supplies as well. Reach out to your community and see what help is available, you will probably be able to get some, if not all, of what your child needs to be successful in school.