It’s time to send the kids back to school, which means it’s time to buy school supplies! Notebooks, binders, folders, pencils, crayons, markers, calculators . . . the list goes on and on. It can get awfully expensive, especially as your kids get older. Check out these ways to save money during back-to-school season, and share your favorite cost-saving strategies in the comments!
Check Craigslist for School Supplies
Craigslist is indispensable when it comes to saving money, and it can be great for school supplies, both used and new. You can find everything from art supplies and brand-new backpacks to giant boxes of folders and pencil cases. Craigslist is a great place to buy musical instruments, too. Search the For Sale section for “school supplies” or “office supplies” and you’ll get dozens of results; you never know what you’ll find.
You might be surprised at how many results you’ll get if you search the free section of Craigslist for school supplies, as well. Most school supplies aren’t worth very much on their own, and people don’t want to go through the trouble of selling them, so they’ll give them away.
The end of summer is also a common time for garage and yard sales, and Craigslist is a great place to find listings for sales near you; you can often find school supplies for next to nothing at these sales. There’s no guarantee that you’ll find what you’re looking for, but if you enjoy garage sales and you find some that mention school or office supplies on their Craigslist listings, they might be worth checking out!
Stay on Top of School Supply Sales
School supplies often go on clearance shortly after the school year starts . . . but by then, most people have bought all of their supplies, so they don’t get to take advantage. You can make the most of these sales by buying enough to get your kids through the first month or so of school, and setting up a Google alert for “school supplies sale,” “school uniform clearance,” “[your city] school supplies clearance,” or a similar search term.
Keep this alert going throughout the year so you can start stocking up for next year early. Buying next year’s school supplies at the end of this year is one of the best ways you can save cash on sending your kids back to school.
Passion for Savings also has a great page on back-to-school deals that will help you keep track of which items are on sale at which stores. When you see a good deal on an item you need, take advantage of it! There are also shopping lists with recommended “stockpile” prices that you can use to make sure you’re getting good deals, and a calendar of sales tax holidays to help you plan your back-to-school shopping days.
Research the Best Prices on School Uniforms
In the long run, school uniforms can save money, but they can be expensive to invest in the first time. Instead of going to the closest uniform store, spend some time looking around for the best price online. With many schools adopting uniforms, many affordable clothing stores are starting to stock uniforms: Old Navy, JC Penney, Kohl’s, Target, and Wal-Mart all have school uniforms available. Amazon is a good place to look, too.
To save even more money, you can look for second-hand uniforms. School Uniform Resale is a great place to start; they offer a classifieds-like service for selling pre-worn uniforms, and you can look for the specific school that your child attends. You can also check for uniforms at kids’ consignment stores (check Kids’ Consignment Sales for a list of seasonal sales), Craigslist, and eBay.
Look for Coupons for School Supplies
Looking for coupons online can be done efficiently and can save you a lot of money if you do it right. Big retailers often have online-only coupons on their websites that you can use to buy school supplies online, or coupons that they’ll text to your phone for use when you’re at the store. Check the weekly ads on their websites.
Some stores are also now offering exclusive coupons via text message. Look for these offers and sign up online to get deals sent directly to your phone. You can even occasionally find Groupons on school supplies! Just use the search bar at the top of the Groupon homepage and see what you can find.
Remember that there are lots of Amazon coupon codes, too—use them to get the best deal when buying in bulk online.
Buy School Supplies in Bulk
Your child may only need three notebooks for the school year, but if you buy a lot of them at once (say 50), you could get them at a significant discount. What to do with the rest of them? Keep them in storage for next year, share them (and the price) with neighbors and friends, donate them to a good cause . . . it’s totally up to you. But buying school supplies in bulk is one of the best ways to cut down on per-unit cost.
For example, an 18-pack of Ticonderoga #2 pencils at Target costs $3.39. That’s 18.5¢ per pencil. On Dollar Days, you can currently get a 576-pack of #2 pencils for $37.25. That’s 6.5¢ per pencil. Obviously you don’t need 576 pencils for the school year, but if you have several kids, or you can find other parents to split the cost, that’s going to be a big savings.
If you’re looking to buy in bulk, Dollar Days is a great place to start. You have to open an account to see their prices, but it’s free. Amazon also sells bulk school supplies; just search for “[your item] bulk” and see what comes up.
How Do You Save on School Supplies?
These are some of the best ways that you can use the Internet to save on school supplies. Now we want to hear your best back-to-school saving strategies. Do you buy in bulk? Order online? Clip coupons? Buy at the end of the year? Share your best tactics below!
Image Credits:cart with school supplies by Maglara via Shutterstock