How to save money on school supplies


Back-to-school – already?

Although summer isn’t over yet, back-to-school ads and sales have already begun. And if you are counting down the days until your kids are back in the classroom (if you are, no judgment) then it might be time to start getting ready for September. 

A good place to start is by making a budget if you don’t have one already. Check out these free budget workbooks from Bridget Casey’s blog, Money After Graduation, which is full of practical tips and tricks.

Once your budget is set, it’s time to shop! Here are my top three ideas on how to save money as you stock up on school supplies:

1. Prioritize and set expectations up front

If you’re shopping for little ones – or even for not so little ones – they may want everything in their school bag to be brand new come September 1st. The newest and coolest sneakers, backpacks and jeans may be their top priority, but sticking to your budget should be yours. Make a list of the items that need to be replaced – clothing that is too small, for example – and specific classroom requirements. Talk to your kids before you head to the store about what is (and is not) included.


2. Watch for sales and shop around

This may sound like a no-brainer, but it does require a bit of planning in advance. If you leave your supply run until the day before school starts, it’s a lot harder to check multiple stores or cash in on a big sale. Start early, check print/email flyers and try a few stores to find the best deals. If you can, head out later in the evening on a weeknight when most stores are less busy.


3. Invest in quality (when possible)

If you have a few extra dollars in the bank, think about investing in a higher quality item that costs more up front but lasts longer. Maybe it’s a well-made backpack or a top quality winter coat to protect against the cold wind. If money is tight, check your local thrift store for gently used items that still have many more years of use in them. 

If saving money at back-to-school time – or anytime – is important to you, visit your local credit union today to get personalized financial advice with your best interests (and not the bottom line) in mind.