6 Smart Shopping Tips for Buying School Supplies

How to cut the hassle and save money when buying back-to-school supplies

Grade-schoolers will need a wide variety of school supplies. Here are some great ideas on how to save and simplify to make back-to-school shopping hassle-free and a bit less painful on the wallet.

Start shopping for basic school supplies early, and at different stores.

smiling shopping family
Even if you don't have a list of required school supplies yet, you can buy basic school supplies such as pens, pencils, and paper early. Try shopping at different stores for basic school supplies. There’s nothing like a little comparison shopping if you’re looking for sales and discount school supplies. While it may be tempting to buy everything in one place, you may be surprised by how much you can save, just by keeping an eye out for sales on basic school supplies such as pens, pencils and paper at general-merchandise or office supply stores.

Get a jump on items on the list from your child’s teacher.

Many teachers now post lists of required supplies on the school’s website. Others may give out a list of some specific items, such as a particular type of folder or notebook, on the first day of school. As soon as you know what is needed, pick up the supplies from your local office supply or other retail store. The earlier you can buy what you need, the better: Stores are less likely to run out of certain items, you’ll avoid long lines, and you might find a discount.

Look around your home for supplies you can reuse.

From binders to pencils to erasers, you'll be amazed at how many school supplies you already have lying around the house. Do an inventory and gather anything that can be reused before you do your shopping.

Let your child choose some school supplies.

When a grade-schooler feels like he has a say in choosing the school supplies he needs, he is more likely to be enthusiastic about starting or going back to school. Present him with two or three choices of a few items such as backpacks or lunchboxes (any more and you’re liable to spend hours in the store).

Think quality over quantity.

This rule can be applied to everything from pens to backpacks. You may spend a few more dollars at the outset, but you’ll find that it’s well worth it when you can use, say, a lunchbox for a few years rather than having to replace it every year or even more often.

Buy school supplies for the classroom when they’re on sale.

Many schools now ask parents to donate paper products, art materials and other school supplies to the classroom. Keep a sharp eye out for sales on items such as paper towels, napkins, and art supplies so that you’ll have them on hand when it’s your turn to donate to the classroom.

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