It’s time to send the kids back to school, and they’ll need new clothes, pencils, notebooks, and plenty of other school supplies. That can get expensive for just one child—and overwhelming if you have more than one. Here are a few tips to make back-to-school shopping less stressful.
Shop at home
Before you spend a penny on school supplies, take stock of what you already have. Go through all the folders, crayons and more from last school year and figure out what’s still good. You can use that ruler and pair of scissors year after year.
Have a swap
If you don’t have what you need, your friends might. Get a group of parents of similar-aged kids together and trade supplies. You could even set your supplies out and let the kids “shop” for what they need and want. Don’t forget to include clothes.
Visit the Dollar Store
Your typical dollar store carries most of what you’ll find on a school supply list—notebooks, pencils, crayons, markers, etc.—for $1 each.
Buy in bulk
The per-unit price is often cheaper when you buy a lot of items at once. Sure, you don’t need six boxes of crayons this year, but you will eventually. Buy extra and save the items for next year.
Try the grocery store
People typically don’t think of the grocery store for school supplies, but most markets have an office supply aisle.
Make kids pay
If your child is old enough for an allowance or part-time job, they can help pay for their school supplies. Your son doesn’t want to use last year’s perfectly good backpack? Let him buy the one he wants with his own money.
In fact, if they are old enough, you can use back-to-school shopping as a teaching moment. Give your son or daughter a shopping list and a budget and let them take the lead on buying supplies. You’ll want to retain final approval.
Pro tip for next year
Once school starts, stores will mark down school supplies. Stock up then and put them away for next year. Even if you don’t have your kids’ supply lists, you can make some educated guesses—kids in elementary school will need crayons and colored pencils, for example.