Ways to Save on School Gear
by Nancy Twigg
How many more days until school starts? If you are a parent, most likely you can
answer that question without even looking at a calendar. Summer has been fun but
by now, most kids and their parents are ready to settle back into the school
Back-to-school time can be exciting as both parents and children look forward to
the upcoming academic year. However, it can also be a very expensive time of the
year, as Mom and Dad buy new clothes, supplies and accessories for each of their
school-aged children. Here are ten tips for keeping down the cost of starting
another school year.
1. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the new school year and
overspend on school supplies. Before you buy anything, evaluate all of last
yearís supplies to see what your child can reuse. Things like backpacks, rulers,
scissors, and three-ring binders may not need to be replaced.
2. While you check out last yearís supplies, also take a quick inventory of what
you have around the house. Many businesses give away promotional items such as
pens, pencils, highlighters and other freebies that your child can put to good
use at school.
3. Yard sales are a great source for low-cost school supplies. In the weeks
before school starts, watch for gently-used backpacks, lunchboxes, and binders.
You may also find folders, markers, and other common supplies your child will
4. Donít forget about the possibility of shopping secondhand for school clothes.
Itís not uncommon to find brand new garments with their original price tags
still attached at yard sales and thrift stores. Even shopping at consignment
stores is less expensive than buying everything at full-price from retail
5. Although you may be tempted to get a jumpstart on shopping for school
supplies, keep in mind that you wonít know exactly what your children need until
they get supply lists from their teachers. Unless you find bargains too
incredible to pass up, save yourself some frustration by waiting to do all your
shopping until you have those lists in hand.
6. Dollar stores are also a good source for school supplies. However, be careful
to compare prices. Make sure you donít pay more at a dollar store than you would
by shopping at the major chainsí back-to-school sales.
7. Speaking of sales, the super-low prices you will find now on school supplies
are usually the best you will see all year. Take full advantage of these prices
by stocking up. You know your kids will need paper, erasers, crayons, and glue
throughout the year. Save yourself some money later by buying and stashing away
a yearís supply now.
8. If you want to get the best deals but donít want to drive all over to get
them, do your back-to-school shopping at a store that offers price matching.
Many major chains will match any advertised sale price on items they have in
stock. Just look through all the store circulars to find the best prices on the
supplies your child needs. Then bring the competitorsí sale flyers to a store
that matches prices so you can get the best sale prices without the extra
9. Backpacks can be expensive, but look at it as an investment. A good quality
pack will cost more initially than a cheap one, but will save you money in the
long run by lasting through several school years.
10. Set a budget for back-to-school spending. What your children want and what
they actually need may not be the same thing. Make a rule that you will pay for
the clothes and supplies that they truly need, but they must use their
allowances for the extras.
Nancy Twigg is the editor of Counting the Cost, a free online newsletter about
simple and frugal living. To learn more about making your dollars stretch, visit
Nancy online at