Creative Ways to Save Money on Back to School


Amy GreeneBelieve it or not, summer is almost over and soon we will be facing back to school. A time for new clothes and shoes, new pencils and erasers, fresh crayons and notebooks … and money to be spent. But, with a little planning and ingenuity, you can keep more money in your pocket while still getting all the supplies you need for your students. Here are a few ideas on how to save money on back to school supplies.

1. REDUCE: We've all seen the lists sent out by the schools for the supplies needed in each grade. Is it just me, or do those lists seem to grow every year? When my first child started school (we had homeschooled for years, then decided to allow her to attend the last year of public middle school), we followed the list to the letter, buying exactly what was on the list, not deviating an inch. We quickly learned that those lists should be followed as a guideline, not a playbook! When my oldest started school, we saw that almost two-thirds of what we had purchased either did not get used, or did not get used until MUCH later into the year. So, study those lists carefully. Look through them and decide from experience – what is a must have for the first day/week/month of school? What can wait?

school supplies | Fotolia/Jenifoto

A pile of supplies waiting to be used. Photo: Fotolia/Jenifoto

2. REUSE: We have four children. When buying for more than one child, we discovered there can be quite a bit of leftovers in many areas, whether it's food, clothing or school supplies. We soon learned that having our children clean out their rooms before school started led to amazing discoveries of stacks of notebooks, reams of filler paper, multiple binders, boxes of colored pencils, crayons and markers, and even extras such as glue sticks, highlighters and scissors. After that first year, I cleared out a spot in a central location and started stashing extras items there, especially those that were located in the darkest recesses of the children's rooms. At the end of a semester, or a year, we would put any excess items in our designated spot. Then, at the beginning of the next year, we will "shop" our shelves FIRST – that way we don't buy too much or duplicate something we already have.

crayons | Fotolia/Martin Garnham

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