Saving Money on School Supplies During Back to School Season
Back to school season sneaks up on every parent. You’re enjoying a family vacation, lounging by the pool and enjoying time with family. Before you know it, summer break is over and schools around the country are mailing out school supply lists. Suddenly, the summer break becomes one of the most expensive times of the year, second to Christmas.
According to Money Crashers, the cost of school supplies has been steadily rising in the last few years. In 2019, the break down cost for elementary, middle school, and high school compared to costs in 2018 were:
- $1,017 for elementary students, up 35% from 2018
- $1,277 for middle school students, up 22% from 2018
- $1,668 for high school students, up 11% from 2018
In 2019, the National Retail Foundation expected the cost per student around $696, while the Huntington Bank Back estimated costs to be well over $1,000.
If you’re a family on a budget, spending over a thousand dollars per student on school supplies probably not something you think about during the summer months. And while it might be tempting to cut a few corners on school supplies, teachers highly suggest you don’t skimp on quality. Afterall, things like backpacks, pencil pouches, and binders have to hopefully last to the end of the year. When it comes to school supplies, you get what you pay for.
Of course, School Supply Boxes has reinvented how parents buy school supplies. Skip driving around from store to store just to scratch items off that school supply list. School Supply Boxes has everything your child needs for that first day back to school with the most common items needed per grade level.
Saving Money Made Easy
If you’re a glutton for punishment and love the traditional headache of buying school supplies, you’ll still need a few tips to save a few bucks to make sure that final price tag doesn’t run up too high.
Before you head to the first store, start searching around the house for things you might need. Pencils, pens, loose leaf paper, or extra supplies you bought last year might be hiding in places you forgot about. Even if they’re not new, a blue pen is a blue pen, a wooden ruler is a wooden ruler. Why buy brand new when you already have supplies that are just fine?
A few weeks before school supply season starts, big box stores start advertising all of their school supply sales. Following stores on social media like Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram might help you snag a few coupons or discounts on items. Shopping a little early in the season can also help you save a few bucks.
Every year, states across the country have tax holidays to help parents on buying items they need for back to school. This is the best time of the year for parents to save money. Most school supplies, clothes, backpack packs under $100, and shoes are some of the common items tax exempt during the holiday. If you have multiple children to shop for, it’s quite possible you’ll save thousands of dollars in one weekend.
Have too many packs of loose leaf paper? Bought one too many pocket folders? Organize a supply swap with friends, family, or with other parents from your child’s school to barter for the supplies you need and get rid of supplies you don’t need. Not only is it a great way to save some money, it’s also a great way to build school unity and meet parents you might not during the rest of the school year.
While you might not find a ton of school supplies at a garage sale, you might end up finding gently used items like backpacks and clothes. Clothes shopping for multiple kids can eat into your back to school budget quickly, so finding great quality clothes for cheap can help you stretch your funds.
Not having much luck at garage sales? Try thrift shops and consignment shops to get great deals as well. You’ll likely pay slightly more than you will at a garage sale, but you’ll definitely avoid the high dollar cost of big box stores.
It’s almost never a good idea to buy all of your school supplies at just one brick and mortar store. Stores know everyone will be shopping and want to maximize the number of bodies in a store so they’ll purposely undercut the competition to make more sales. Use their competition to your advantage and stop at multiple stores. However, remember that driving from store to store to get the best deal also has the added cost of using up gas. You could just shop at School Supply Boxes and skip that, but go ahead. Enjoy traffic and driving around looking for a parking space.
Make sure to take advantage of price matching. Some stores will glady price match their competitor’s prices if it means making a sale. However, make sure you know what a store’s policy is before you go shopping.
It might sound a little cruel, but taking kids to the store with you when buying school supplies can be more of a headache than helpful. Kids know name brands and trendy items when they see them. No one wants to be that kid who didn’t get the cool backpack everyone else is using. But children might not understand budgets and saving money. They just know what they want and what everyone else is getting. So, leave the kids at home and do your shopping in peace so you can go straight to the discount or clearance sections.
Parents with student athletes know it’s not just school supplies and clothes you have to worry about before school starts. There is also the added cost of sports equipment for football, baseball, soccer, and others. If your young athlete has equipment that can last a little while longer, consider cleaning it up a little and using it for a while longer unless it truly needs replacing.
But if the cost of sports and extracurricular activities is just too much this year, sit down with your student and let them know they will need to choose one sport or perhaps only take part in things that don’t require an extra cost.
Run into a great deal on supplies? Buy a few more now and save money next year. If you know you’re going to end up buying a loose leaf paper again next year and a pack of paper costs a dollar now, buy more than you need and store them away for next year. Buying in bulk is often a great way to save money during the back to school season.
A new trend many supply stores and big box stores are adopting is premade boxes filled with school supplies. While this might be a great way to save a few bucks, many of these premade boxes cut corners by putting in lower quality supplies that many teachers ask parents to avoid. Skimping on quality school supplies is definitely not worth the few pennies you’ll save.
With School Supply Boxes, we’ve researched list after list of required school supplies and created boxes based on grade levels. Whether your child is in elementary school, middle school, high school, or if you’re a college student, we’ve put together premade boxes of the supplies we know you’ll be shopping for before the school year starts.
Additionally, schools who partner with School Supply Boxes can take part in the Supply Your School program, where teachers tell us what specific supplies their students will need and we make custom boxes tailored for your student. School supply shopping doesn’t get any easier.
Have any tips of your own for saving a few dollars during back to school season? Let us know in the comments and be part of the conversation.