The average American family with school children spends about $600 per year on school supplies. Because of the difficult current state of the economy, saving money has become an even higher priority for most families. By setting limits and shopping for school supplies at the right times and places, parents can save a significant amount of money. Here are some useful tips foron school supplies for kids:
- Discounted prices: After school begins, stores typically sell school supplies at discounted prices. Some stores have clearance sales about a week after the start of the school year. Also, standard supplies can be purchased for next year at this time.
- Expensive items: For high priced items like laptop computers, you can save a great deal by purchasing older models.
- Barter: Exchange items with other parents. They may have items in good condition which their kids are no longer using.
- Online Auctions: Check online auction sites, like eBay, for good deals on used items.
- Stick to required supplies: Buying items not on the school’s recommended list will, of course, increase your total cost. Contact the school to get a list. Also, many schools have supply lists on their websites.
- Free supplies: Some community programs offer free school supplies. Usually they’re given to low-income families. Contact your school for information.
- Reuse supplies: See what you have from last year and salvage what you can. Younger kids can use the unneeded or unwanted supplies of their older siblings. Ask family members and neighbors if they have any spare school supplies.
- Uniforms: If uniforms are necessary, ask the school if they have a used uniform distribution system.
- Dollar Stores: You probably won’t find a laptop computer at a dollar store, but basic supplies, like pencils, notebooks, and binders, can be purchased at these stores.
- Budget: Before shopping with the kids, let them know you’re on a tight budget. Let them do their pouting and throw their tantrums at home and not in the stores!
- Unnecessary items: Let the kids buy unnecessary school supplies with their own money. This strategy will make you popular with your kids!
- Ink Cartridges: If the kids use the Internet for school work, ask them to only print the things they really need. Color images use a lot of expensive ink.
- Shop early: Many stores have back-to-school loss leaders. These items are sold at below cost just to entice people into the store. These items are sold beginning in July.
- Plain looking supplies: Buy the less expensive drab notebooks and other plain looking items and let the kids decorate them. For economic reasons, just say no to notebooks bedazzled with precious stones!
- Go shopping without the kids: Parents can save money by shopping for school supplies without the kids. It’s easier to refrain from buying the fancy items and unnecessary supplies they will most certainly beg for.
What methods do you use to save money on school supplies?
Brian Jenkins writes about a variety of education topics for BrainTrack.com.