A good education is priceless; school supplies, on the other hand, can cost an arm and leg. Luckily, a little planning and some savvy shopping can help cut expenses. Here are 10 ways to shop for school supplies like one smart cookie.
Make a budget
It sounds obvious, but creating a budget for school supplies is key to saving. A budget will keep you from overspending and, also, encourage you to shop for deals. Plus, knowing how much money you’re going to shelling out offers peace of mind.
Stick to a list
To make a budget, you need to know what you’re buying. Your child’s school should provide a supply list for each grade level, and these lists are available at most office supply stores, like Staples. Contact your school’s administration office for exact information.
Shop your home first
Before you head to the store, take an inventory of your junk drawers and storage areas for unused office supplies. Chances are you’ve got like-new pens and pencils lying around somewhere.
Focus on saving on big-ticket items
You can find inexpensive pens and pencils pretty much anywhere, so you’re better off focusing on clipping coupons for more expensive items, like clothing, backpacks, and laptops.
Search online coupon sites
Sites like Coupons.com are a great for easily finding deals on school supplies. There are tons of such sites, however, and quick Google search will turn up several results.
Sign up for email deals from stores where you shop
Many office supply stores offer worthwhile discounts this time of year just for signing on to their email list. Once you’re signed up, you may be alerted to special sales and discounts for subscribers. If the emails become bothersome, you can always unsubscribe.
Shop during New Mexico’s tax-free holiday
This is a great opportunity to save, especially on big-ticket items. The state of New Mexico is hosts an annual back-to-school tax-free weekend, usually in the beginning of August. Shoppers are charged zero sales tax on eligible items include clothing (up to $100 per item), school supplies (up to $30 per item), computers (up to $1,000), and computer-related hardware (up to $500). For more info on New Mexico’s tax-free weekend, visit tax.newmexico.gov/tax-holiday.
Novelty items, like sparkly pens, are fun, but unless the glitter transmits extra brainpower, they won’t help your kid do better in school. That, and they are usually waaay overpriced. (For the $4 you’d spend on one mini highlighter, you could get an entire pack of full-sized highlighters.) If you find yourself tempted by something, refer to your supply list. If it isn’t on the list, don’t buy it.
Check out your local dollar store
Dollar stores are fantastic places for buying school supplies. Everything from notebooks to protractors is just $1. Selection varies by store, however, so you may want to peruse a couple of locations.
Shop chain clothing stores
Large retail stores like Old Navy, Gap and The Children’s Place rotate merchandise often, which means they frequently offer markdowns. These sales are semi-regular, so ask a representative when they’re happening. Frequent markdowns also mean that if something goes on sale shortly after you bought it, the store will credit you the difference. Just make sure you have your receipt.
Save your receipts
Speaking of which, it’s a good idea to save all your receipts, not just the ones for clothing. If you bought a calculator, let’s say, and then discover it’s gone on sale shortly after you purchased it, many stores will grant you a price adjustment.
Do you have tips for saving on back to school shopping? We’d love to know what they are. Please share in the comments section below.