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How to Save Money on Back-to-School Supplies

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The month of August means it’s that time of year again for parents: back-to-school shopping. Here are a few ways that I have saved money while shopping for my kids and the school year ahead.


Take a quick inventory before you start shopping. What school supplies do you already have on hand around the house? Odds are you have certain items left over from the previous school year that you won’t need to buy. Seeing what you have can save you from duplicating purchases you’ve already made.


How much do you have to spend on school supplies? Know what you can afford before you start shopping. That way you can make sure you allocate your money properly and get everything you need without overspending.


There are a lot of back-to-school sales as you get closer to the start of the school year. Be aware of deals at retailers like Staples. If there’s a particularly good deal, you could even stock up on items for the next school year and save yourself some time next fall.

Check the local dollar stores for supplies as well. You might find items that you buy each year at a lower price, such as pencils, markers, and notebooks.


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Not everything needs to be brand new. Sometimes it just needs to be new to your child. Check out what local thrift stores and consignment shops have on your back-to-school shopping list. Who knows, you might even find a vintage t-shirt or other items that are back in vogue with kids these days! A couple of my favorite consignment shops near me are Once Upon a Child and Plato’s Closet in Williston.


Similarly, friends and family might already own school supplies that your own kids can use. Invite friends (and their friends) over to swap items that they no longer want or need; clothing and backpacks seem like especially good things to trade back and forth. If you have friends with kids who are one or two grades ahead, you could even snag books that will be on the syllabus for the upcoming academic year.


It doesn’t always pay to buy the cheapest option. Think long-term—what school supplies is your child going to need again next year? It may make sense to invest in a higher quality backpack or binder that can be reused and last multiple school years. In the long run, you could end up paying less than you would buying the cheaper option each year.


You don’t have to do all your back-to-school shopping at the end of summer. For instance, I don’t buy fall clothes at the start of school; it’s still typically summer weather anyway. I’ve also had times when my kids outgrew clothes in the month or two between when I bought them and when they could wear them! Instead, I wait until the cooler weather hits to buy fall clothing. At that point, some of the clothes we want are on sale.

If you’re a planner and ahead of the game, you can keep your eye out for deals at other times of the year as well. There are often sales for off-season clothing, like fall and winter clothing being marked down in the spring. You don’t have to wait until the school year is upon you to start shopping. Strike while the iron is hot!


I hope this helps you keep a little extra money for other expenses. Not only can you save money on back-to-school shopping, but you can also use this as an opportunity to teach your kids how to save money themselves.

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Caroline Cross - Bio

About Caroline Cross

Caroline Cross is the branch lead at VSECU's Williston branch. Her daily interactions with members can range from opening accounts to closing consumer loans. Caroline lives in Williston with her husband and two children.
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