It happens every year. The school supply list is mailed to your home in the summer and this year it seems it will even bigger than the last one, even if your child is only in elementary school. I know it’s pretty early in the year to bring this up, but better a bit too early than too late.
For some families, the back to school supply list can take an unwelcome bite out of that month’s income, but there are ways to be a smarter school shopper and lessen the financial impact of that huge school supply list.
Check What Your Kids Still Have
Just because a book bag is right there at the top of your child’s school supply list does not mean that you have to buy them a brand new one every September. Instead of giving in to your kids’ whims and buying that flimsy Justin Bieber or Transformers book bag that will be in vogue for approximately fifteen minutes, invest in a good quality, sturdy and durable book bag that will last longer than just a single school year.
Lands End and Jansport both make great quality book bags that are designed to last and remain to look good for the length of their useful life. They are stylish but not flashy and they will last through several school years, not just one.
You should take the time to look through last year’s book bag before you head out shopping for everything on the new school supply list. Chances are that much of what that list says your kid needs is sitting right in their discarded book bag. Read also this post about making donations to public schools.
Check the Dollar Store – All Year
You don’t need to wait for August to come around to shop for school supplies. Your local dollar store is Guaranteed to have a nice selection of pens, pencils, crayons and notebooks all year round so why not pick up one or two things every time you are there and put them away someplace until they are needed. Doing this will help lessen the impact when the school supply list arrives. Kids won’t mind you shopping at the dollar store either since many of them carry cute imported items that will actually impress their friends.
Head to eBay
Even though it has been around for fifteen years now eBay is still a great place to get a bargain and school supplies are no exception. When searching for them though, check the “wholesale lots” auctions. Many merchants offer incredible deals on all kinds of school supplies. The only thing to remember is to start shopping early though, as many of the best deals come from abroad and will take a little extra time to ship to your door.
Find a Friend, Buy in Bulk
Sometimes you can get a really great deal on items on your kid’s school supply list by buying in bulk, either from a wholesaler online or from a discount warehouse store. The only trouble is that your child needs twenty pencils not two hundred. Band together with some of her classmate’s parents though and you can all get those school supply lists ticked off for less.
Help the Teacher
As someone who has teachers in the family, I know firsthand just how many good, caring teachers dip into their own pockets every year to buy some extra school supplies to hand out to kids whose parents just simply did not have the spare money to buy all the items on their child’s school supply list. See also this post on how to teach your child to stop interrupting you. The teacher will also benefit, I guess.
Teachers do not get paid that much in the first place, so if you can, sending your child back to school with an extra pack of pens or pencils, even a cheap box of crayons to give to their teacher to add to his or her supply drawer will be a greatly appreciated small act of kindness.