It’s the beginning of a new school year, which means that kids are bringing home school supplies lists a yard long and parents are throwing up their hands and saying, “What? Do I really need to buy THAT?” Yes — and no! With school budgets shrinking, parents are becoming the go-to source for pretty much all the supplies kids need to succeed in school. That said, do kids need as MUCH as schools want them to bring? And does it all have to be new? Of course not. We’ve pulled together these suggestions to help parents save hundreds of dollars on school supplies by buying less, buying in bulk, and of course, reusing what they already have.
Where to start?
1) Go to your own cupboard or storage boxes first. If you haven’t already done so, check the stashes of pens, pencils, crayons and paper leftover from last year before buying new. SAVINGS: $25-$50/child
2) Use last year’s backpacks and lunch boxes. Most backpacks are made from pretty heavy duty material that can last for several years. SAVINGS: $50-$125/child, depending on backpack.
3) Before you shop, swap. At sites like swap.com, you can swap everything from clothing and toys to games and sporting equipment. Want to swap in your community? Here are some ideas for setting up a neighborhood school supply swap.
4) Shop yard sales and thrift stores for back-to-school clothes. SAVINGS: $100 – $250/child, depending on your usual clothes budget.
5) Borrow sports equipment and rent musical instruments. Is your daughter trying hockey for the first time? Not sure if your son is a budding violinist or just likes to hear the bow scratch? Borrow skates or rent the violin until you’re sure a purchase makes sense. SAVINGS: $50 – $250.
6) Keep a supplies drawer or bin throughout the school year. It’s easy to think you need pens or pencils when you can’t find the ones you have. Keep all the school supplies together in one spot – a drawer, some shelves, a bin – where anyone can get what they need without having to buy it. You don’t need anything fancy. Old shoeboxes can hold tape dispensers, staplers, and paper clips. Empty sauce jars can hold pens, pencils, and rulers. Contain reams of paper with rubber bands. Make it easy, organized and convenient.
Total Savings: $225 – $675 per child.
Check Our Amazon Back-to-School Store
When you do need to shop for new supplies, ask for the greenest items available: recycled paper, pens that use non-toxic ink, cloth backpacks and lunch bags, stainless steel water bottles. You can start in our store, or simply take a look to get an idea of what to seek out when you head to the mall.