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How to Make School Supplies Cheaper: 15 Tips for Saving Money

In 2020, parents of children in grades K-12 spent an estimated $33.9 billion on back-to-school supplies. That’s a little under $800 for each parent.

These numbers are up from previous years due to the fact that the coronavirus pandemic has caused many students to be primarily learning remotely from home.

No matter where your child will be getting an education this year, back-to-school shopping is an annual event that no parent can avoid. That being said, there are ways you can save on supplies and keep your costs down.

Make School Supplies Cheaper

Are you wondering how to make school supplies more affordable? Let’s take a look at 15 tips.

Choose Generic Instead of Brand Names

One of the easiest ways to save on supplies is to buy generic brands rather than brand-name products. While brand-name products can look cool and it can be difficult to convince your child that there is no material difference, they are more expensive simply because of the company that produces them.

Buy in Bulk

Do you know that there are certain items that you are going to need throughout the year? Do you have a number of children that are going to be in the school system? If so, you can save money by buying in bulk for things that you will need over the years.

You also might consider getting together with neighbors or friends to save money by buying in bulk together.

Shop For Sales Online

While some of our ideas on how to save on school supplies are more old-school, you can honestly save quite a bit of money by shopping around online. It can also help you stay organized and on and off coming home from the store with more than you intended to buy.

For example, check out these sales at on Chromebooks.

Head to a Thrift Store

Another place you might have good luck finding school stationaries and other supplies is a thrift store. You can either check out chain thrift stores like the Goodwill, Salvation Army, or Savers, there are probably also some local thrift stores where you might be able to find truly awesome deals on school supplies.

Go to Yard Sales During the Summer

Yard sales can be a gold mine when it comes to things like school supplies. It’s common for people to end up with way more of something than they need or for their school-aged children to be out of the house. You can literally find one cent of school supplies, where people are practically giving the stuff away for free.

One of the great things about yard sales is that the hosts are super motivated to get rid of their stuff. They dragged everything outside with the intention of getting rid of it and they are not about to carry it all back into their house.

This means that the seller has a big advantage and can often bundle a lot of items together and basically walk away having spent the tiniest fraction of what they would have on new items.

Buy Older Models

At this point, it’s incredibly common for most grades in school to require some kind of electronic device. This might be computers, scientific calculators, or a tablet. This type of product can get pretty pricey, but you can save money by purchasing last year’s model.

Electronics are a lot like cars. They depreciate basically right away, and a lot of the cost you are paying upfront just has to do with its “brand new-ness.” Don’t pay 25% more just to have a 2021 model instead of a 2020 model.

Buy Higher Quality Products That Last Longer

It can be tempting to try and always buy the cheapest version of everything. Actually, though, this might be costing you more money in the long run.

When you buy higher quality products, they can keep working well for many years. When you buy cheap products, you might find you’re back at the store replacing them in a matter of weeks or months.

It might be well worth your time to do some research online about what school supplies you can “buy for life.” While the upfront cost might be higher, you might find that in all of the subsequent years you’re hardly shelling out any cash to refuel your school supply stash.

Set a Budget and Plan Ahead

If you’re wondering how to save money on school supplies, your best bet is setting a budget and planning ahead. Make a list before you go to the store if you are going to be buying your school supplies and person. Decided ahead of time how much you are willing to spend and don’t budge from this limit.

When you are school supplies shopping with children, it is common for them to want to add other things into the cart. Talk to your children ahead of time and explain that you will only be getting what is on the list to avoid issues while you’re in the store.

Have a Neighborhood Swap

You aren’t the only family that has children who need school supplies. Consider setting up a neighborhood swap or a school supplies swap with your friends and family. You might find that your neighbors child no longer needs his calculator, while your child is required to have one for this year.

Look Through Your Own Home Office and Storage

Before you head out to the store or start buying things online, shop at home first. Take a walk around your house to see if any of the items that you are planning on buying are actually already lying around.

Things like backpacks, rulers, calculators, and pencil boxes don’t have to be repurchased every single year, so don’t shy away from reusing the same supplies as last year as long as they are still in good condition.

As far as pens and pencils go, consider giving your children the ones that tend to build up in your junk drawer that is free from businesses and events.

Check Out Your Local Dollar Store

One of the cheapest places to find school supplies will be your local dollar store. You can get all kinds of office supplies, markers, pencils, pens, and so much more.

Keep an Eye Out For Store Sales

As the summer carries on, look out for local flyers for back-to-school sales at these stores in your area. You might find that some supplies are cheapest at one store while others you should look for elsewhere.

Search For Used or Refurbished Items

When we think about school supplies, we often think about pens, pencils, binders, and backpacks. These days, though, electronics are a big part of everyone’s lives, including children. Plus, with some students still engaging in remote learning, technology is practically an essential part of school these days.

There is no getting around the fact that electronics can be incredibly expensive. However, there are definitely ways that you can cut down on the cost. Look for used or refurbished items on Craigslist, eBay, or other secondhand sites. Always use caution when using the site, as it is certainly not unheard of for people to get scammed.

You can also go straight to company websites to check out refurbished electronics. These are previously owned electronics that have been looked over and cleaned up so that they can be used by a new consumer.

Utilize Tax-Free Holidays

A lot of states throughout the country offer tax-free holidays sometime around the start of the school year. If your state has one, take advantage of it as you can save quite a bit of money. In fact, you might be able to save as much as 10% off of all of your back-to-school shopping.

Don’t Get Tempted to Stray From Your List at the Store

It can be really difficult to shop with your children for school supplies. They often find things that they want desperately and it can be hard to say no. Consider telling them that they can each that one extra purchase but no more than that.

It will be impossible to stick to your budget if you end up going home with items that weren’t on your original list. Consider shopping alone so that you can stick to the plan.

How to Make School Supplies More Affordable: Get Organized and Plan Ahead

You do not have to pay an arm and a leg to buy new school supplies every year. If you follow some of these tips for saving money during back-to-school shopping, you will definitely be able to keep more of your money in your pocket.

There is no need to rebuy things you already have or to spend more money than you can afford when it comes to back-to-school time, as there are a lot of opportunities to find a discount or second-hand supplies.

Did you find this article about how to make school supplies more affordable interesting? If so, be sure to check out the rest of our blog for the more fascinating and informative content!

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About the author

Michael Austin

Michael Austin is a Internet Entrepreneur, Blogger, Day Dreamer, Business Guy, Fitness Freak and Digital Marketing Specialist. He also helps companies to grow their online businesses.