Money-Saving Ideas for School Supply Shopping

A lot of time we talk about back to school shopping in the context of clothes, but haven’t you walked into the office supply store with that list of supplies from the teacher and walked out feeling a whole lot poorer?  Whether we like it or not, school supplies can get expensive. From clothes to pencils, it can cost a bundle to send your kids back to school. There are some things you can do, though, to make it less financially painful. Here are some money-saving ideas for school supply shopping.

What’s Shared and What’s Not

Back when you were in school, your school supplies were yours, and usually consisted of pencils, pens, notebooks and binders, and paper. The school provided things like dry erase markers, paper towels, and chalk. Schools are cutting their budgets these days, though, so you may find yourself buying supplies that will be shared. Check your local school system’s website or give them a call and find out what supplies will be pooled and which ones will belong to your student.

Save on the Shared Items

If you know an item is going to be shared with the whole class, such as binders or dry erase markers, skip the fancy ones. Go with the more generic, cheap types.

Speaking of Sharing…

Consider buying items in bulk with a group. Find other parents and families who can go in with you to purchase supplies. They tend to be much cheaper in bulk, and buying large amounts and dividing them up can help save some money.


Look for coupons on manufacturer’s and retailer’s websites, and check your local newspaper. Combine the coupons with existing sales, and be willing to move on to the next retailer for the next sale rather than buying all your items at one place.

No Sales Tax

Many areas have a “no sales tax” day when you can buy items without this added tax. This is a good time to buy anything big, such as a small fridge for your college student, or electronics. The bigger the item, the more you save on sales tax. (This is another good time to buy in bulk with friends and family.)

Don’t Forget the Dollar Store

Do you have a store where “everything’s a dollar”? If so, go there! You might be able to find a lot of school supplies for a fraction of what you’d pay at a major retailer.

Start Early

There are a couple of advantages to starting your back-to-school shopping early. For one thing, you are more likely to get the supplies you want and need while stock is still plentiful. Another advantage to starting early is the sale prices. May stores have school supplies discounted early, while it’s still in the middle of summer.

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Saving Savvy Book Review

Saving Savvy

Saving Savvy by Kelly Hancock

Kelly Hancock’s book Saving Savvy is an impressive entry into the save money/personal finance niche.  She goes into some serious detail about how to shave your spending – especially in the grocery area.  And it’s not just about extreme couponing – though she does give plenty of details on how to do that – wisely (sometimes I feel like extreme coupons are just neatnik hoarders – after all who really needs 20 tubes of toothpaste at one time?)  – she also lays out detailed plans on meal and menu planning and stocking your cupboards.

Meal/menu planning is something I talk about a lot – since eating out is a huge – and often unnecessary expense, especially if it happens on a regular basis.  I’m all for date night, and the special dinner out, but when Tuesday is Ruby Tuesday night cause you just don’t want to cook – or worse, you have nothing in the fridge – well then – I think that’s a major budget leak.

So Hancock and Saving Savvy nicely help you overcome that with menu planning sheets, inventory sheets and tips about stocking and storing food.   For those who want to go hard core there are plenty of tips on flash freezing fresh veggies (like when there’s an incredible deal on peppers) and on one a month cooking…(where you cook an entire month of meals and portion them out in smaller containers in your freezer – sort of like Jenny Craig but not…)

And while you may not want to follow everything in Saving Savvy to a “T” or dig on the Bible quotes, don’t overlook the face that she had plenty of solid how information with directions on how to download inventory sheets, meal planners and other cool freebies from her site:

You can buy the book at…Saving Savvy: Smart and Easy Ways to Cut Your Spending in Half and Raise Your Standard of Living…and Giving by Kelly Hancock.