Easy Back-to-School Shopping on a Budget

Back-to-school shopping is often a source of stress for parents. With annual changes to the necessary supplies for each classroom, it can be expensive and time-consuming to make sure your child has everything they need to get through the year. Not only that, but budget cuts can also affect a teacher’s lesson plan, so you may find yourself buying supplies that are meant to be shared amongst the students. This means you might have to buy extras to keep at home, and this can bring extra stress if you’re on a budget. It also might explain why parents in the US report spending about 35 percent more on school supplies than last year.

The good news is that there are many cost-cutting methods you can use to save money in other areas to make sure you won’t have any issues when it’s time to buy school supplies. From switching out cable for a streaming service to carpooling to save money on gas, there are several easy ways to take the stress out of back-to-school shopping. Looking for the best sales — both online and in-store — will also be beneficial, so it will help to start early.

Here are a few tips on how to make school supply shopping easy and stress-free.

Switch to a Streaming Service

A monthly cable subscription can be expensive, especially when you have a service that provides television, internet, and phone. A great way to cut back on household expenses is to reduce your cable service and introduce a streaming device. There are several different models and price ranges, but it’s easy to find a model that fits your TV and doesn’t take a bite out of your bank account. Best of all, you can “a la carte” the channels and shows you want to watch through apps like Hulu, Netflix and PBS kids. 

Utilize the Second-hand Economy

While thrifting is typically catch-as-catch-can when it comes to school supplies and clothes, the booming second-hand economy can actually be extremely helpful for families on a budget. Apps such as Vinted and Mercari allow you to sell old clothes, shoes, and accessories or buy them used from other savvy sellers. Most of these apps give you the option to make an offer on an item you like, meaning you can save even more money, and you can upload photos of your own pieces to sell right from your smartphone.

Check your home

When it comes to elementary school supplies, there’s a good chance you already have quite a few necessary items lying around your house. Safety scissors, pencil boxes, crayons, markers, folders, notebooks, and binders are the most common necessities, so check your desk and ask older kids if they have items from the previous year that they can pass down to their siblings. Many teachers are picky about colors when it comes to notebooks and folders because it’s an easy way for them to keep track of different subjects, so make sure you consult the supply list.

Sign Up for Emails and Social Media

Many stores that sell school supplies run special deals at the end of summer so parents can save, but you may need to sign up for their email newsletter or follow them on social media in order to get the benefit. Check out office supply stores as well as big chains like Target or Walmart, and look online for coupons and promo codes to see what kind of deals you can get.

Getting ready for school can be difficult for many parents, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Start early, if possible, and think outside the box when you’re ready to go shopping. With a little creativity, you can ensure your kids are ready for the new school year.

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