How to Save Money on Back-to-School Supplies
Buying school supplies at the end of the summer is an unavoidable and costly task. Learn how to save money on back-to-school supplies with these tricks for buying school supplies on the cheap, for students from kindergarten through college. While the list of required supplies may be as long as your arm, the receipt for the store doesn't have to be!
Wait out the rush. If you can wait until after Labor Day, most stores are eager to unload their leftover inventory at a decent discount. This is especially true for some of those big-ticket items like backpacks or computer bags. Even if you live in a school district that starts in mid-August, you may be able to convince your student to pick a new backpack a couple weeks later . . . after checking out what all the "cool kids" are carrying around this year.
Reuse, with flair. Some supplies have to be replenished, but many are still perfectly usable. There's no reason that three-ring binder has to go in the trash if it still works. Even if it's covered with an assortment of last year's stickers, it's amazing what a bit of adhesive paper and scrapbooking paper can do — particularly when you put your kids in charge of the refurbishing.
Get the kids on board. If your children aren't into recycling and want everything brand new, try this: Appeal to their mercenary side. Promise them a percentage of the money you've saved. For example, promising 10 percent back to a kid who then reuses a $5 binder, a couple of $2 folders, and a $30 backpack earns her $3.70 (enough for extra treats at the movies!) and saves you almost $35. You can promise this bonus to younger siblings who agree to hand-me-downs they might otherwise shun — or even to older kids who find great deals in the weekend flyers. Older kids might want a bigger percentage, so remember: Every penny is still a deal.
Teamwork works in bulk. The downside to shopping in bulk is that, well, you get supplies in bulk. For most families, 10 reams of loose-leaf paper is overkill . . . unless you team up with friends. If you can find a few families to join in, bulk-shopping for school supplies can make sense — and save dollars.
Think outside the big-box-store box: There's no reason that you have to go to an office supply store for school supplies. Dollar stores often have great deals on what you need.