Get the Best Bang for Your Buck on School Supplies
Shop sales– Late July and early August are prime Back to School sale periods for school supplies. Even if you dont normally coupon, now is the time. Many companies like Mead and Crayola put out coupons in the paper, on Cupons.com, as well as their product site.
Price Match– Don’t spend all day racing from store to store to get one or two items at optimal prices, the gas alone will make it a waste of time. Instead, arm yourself with the sale ads and head to Walmart or Target who will price match other stores- get it all in one visit at the lowest prices.
Try to Shop Tax Free– Take advantage of the Tax Free holiday that many states offer, within a couple weeks of the new school year you can get all your school items up to a certain dollar amount per item tax free over the course of a couple days, stores often run additional sales during this time to get you in as well.
Wait to buy– This one is really hard for me, I love new pencils, folders, backpacks, the smell of a fresh box of crayons. Sometimes the stores put out a general list from each school per grade level and of course crayons, pencils, scissors and other items are a staple of every school year. You may find that your child’s teacher has their own specific list of items your child will need- a particular type of binder, calculator, or they may even have a no backpack rule if they are short on space. Save yourself the money or the trip to return these items.
Stock up for later– While spending more on things you don’t need now doesn’t seem to fit into saving on school supplies, truly in the long run it will make a difference. When items that are frequently used like crayons are .25 a pack, pick up more than one. Would you rather pay $1 for 4 packs or $1.50 for 1 pack later in the year when you need one? I am not encouraging hoarding, but even if you don’t happen to use that many throughout the year a pack of crayons is a great fill in item in a bag of birthday presents, or pull out a fresh box for your own kids on a rainy day. Items that are worth stocking up for the entire year are; crayons, colored pencils, markers, pencils, 2 pocket 3 prong folders, and glue sticks.
Reuse what you can– Backpack’s, lunchboxes, and even binders need not always be replaced each year. It doesn’t always work but I try to steer the kids to plain backpack’s rather than characters so that last years My Little Pony doesn’t have to become next years yard sale material if its in good condition. Let them choose a solid backpack and then add a patch or button or two to personalize it a bit more. If you have leftover crayons, pencils, and glue from last year keep that in mind while shopping.
Shop quality– Especially on backpacks and lunch boxes. While that $5 backpack may seem like a deal if it has to be replaced every few months it is not worth it. It was hard forking over the $15 for the kids Thermos food jar, but it has not only lasted several years, it keeps hot hot and cold cold.
What are some of your favorite ways to get the most of your Back to School money?