It’s back-to-school season again and you know what that means – long school supply lists and rising costs. Not exactly the best combination as it overwhelms you at the start of a long school year. Fortunately, there are many ways to cut costs without compromising on the quality of your child’s education. In this article, we’ll share some tips on how to save money on school supplies so you can start the school year on a high note.
Distinguish Between Needs and Wants
Sure, that complete set of crayons may look like the best option for your child, but is it actually a need? When preparing for the school year, it’s crucial to distinguish the difference between what’s a need and what’s a want. Always review the supply list provided by the school. A basic crayon set, for example, will suffice for most assignments. While a 64-color set might be more of a luxury rather than a necessity. Remember, it’s all about ensuring that your money is spent where it matters the most.
Communicate With the Teacher
Some schools are quite flexible with their lists. If you’re not sure about their flexibility, your best bet is to contact the teacher. They might even have suggestions for more affordable items. Don’t hesitate to reach out if there are certain brands of supplies that are required or if some can be substituted.
Buy in Bulk
Another way to cut back on your spending is to examine the school supply list and determine which supplies are used frequently. Pencils, notebooks, or paper are some examples of school supplies that are used throughout the school year. Look for bulk discounts in particular as this can help cut costs in the long run. This also prevents last-minute shopping in the middle of the school year.
When your items do not meet the minimum requirements for bulk purchases, you can buy in bulk with other parents. Divide the supplies and you’ll increase your cost savings by bringing down the cost per unit.
Watch Out for Discounts
Many shops offer back-to-school discounts, so keep an eye out for these. You can subscribe to newsletters or follow their social media pages to stay in the loop for the latest updates. Downloading a store’s app might just be able to give you exclusive discounts, so it’s worth looking into that as well.
If you have a credit card, don’t forget to check if they have promotions or cashbacks that can help you save some money the next time you go shopping for school supplies. Plus, you can earn some credit card points that could be useful for redeeming other rewards later on.
Choose Generic Brands
Brand names may seem like the better option for quality, but that isn’t always the case. Compared to some generic brands, branded items sometimes have negligible differences in terms of quality. The differences in price, however, can be stark. Folders and notebooks, for example, serve the same purpose as other branded items but are available at a fraction of the cost.
Quality Over Quantity
For other school items that are intended to be used in the long term, like backpacks or lunch boxes, prioritizing quality over quantity is the way to go. Think of it as an investment. As counterintuitive as it may sound, paying a higher upfront cost for durability will allow you to save money in the long run.
Audit Last Year’s Supplies
Before you add more school supplies to your shopping cart, check the supplies that are available on hand. That way, you avoid buying duplicates. Some items like rulers or calculators are typically in good condition and can be reused in the years to come.
Timing Is Key
The importance of timing when shopping cannot be understated. Some stores offer post-back-to-school season sales once the initial rush is over. If you can hold out for a little longer, you could score some great deals. Alternatively, you stock up for additional school supplies for the next year.
Some states in the U.S. have tax-free shopping days, and these can sometimes fall in the back-to-school season. Always take note of these and you can save a little more from your shopping bill.
Upcycle Household Items
Sometimes, what you’re looking for is already within reach, just waiting for a new purpose. Upcycling household items not only reduces expenses but also promotes sustainability. You provide a second life to items that could have been discarded. For example, an old jar could be used as a pencil holder. If you want to bring some more life into your old items, try customizing them by adding some stickers or even a splash of paint – the little ones will love them!
With a little planning, it’s definitely possible to reduce the strain of back-to-school shopping. Reusing items, timing your shopping days, and shopping smart are strategies that lead to savings without compromising on the quality of school supplies. At the end of the day, preparation is key. A well-crafted plan can make a world of difference for your budget.
By Myrtle Bautista