As any parent knows, back-to-school season can bring up feelings of excitement and relief, as well as stress and worry. On the one hand, the kids are back in class (hooray!), but on the other, you’ll have to make several (often costly) trips to the store to make sure they have all the supplies they need before they hit the books.
But as any savvy shopper can tell you, there are always deals to be had; back-to-school season is no exception. So this prompted the request to tell us … What’s been your favorite way to save money during the back-to-school season?
We received a wide variety of answers, from the mom of four who takes advantage of her state’s tax-free holiday shopping weekend, to the parent who buys in bulk and splits the supplies—and the bill—with other like-minded moms and dads. Thanks to those who answered!
And congratulations to our winner, who will receive $100 to help her reach her financial goals: Bryna Ortiz, a chief operating officer from Armonk, New York.
Here’s her story.
“I have four boys, in grades ranging from 7th to pre-K. My biggest money-saver for back-to-school shopping is reusing as many supplies from the previous year as possible. When one school year ends, I take a couple of hours to go through each of their book bags and assess the usability of their supplies, placing them into piles based on their condition: paper recycling, straight to the saving bin, clean and reuse, or garbage.
Some items come home completely unused. I clean scissors, rulers, plastic folders, binders, clipboards and anything else I feel is almost good as new. Most items will look new again after a little scrubbing. I sharpen pencils that are still long enough to hold, tear out unused perforated paper so they can be used as loose leaf, and save any composition books that have only a few used pages. For those with lots of pages used, I cut out the clean sheets to use as note paper for things like grocery lists or school notes.
I keep all of the reusable supplies in a box for the summer, and when the next year’s lists come out, I allocate the used items among the boys. I try to evenly distribute the old supplies among all four kids, but I also try to make sure each kid gets to buy something new at the store during back-to-school season.
With this method, I’d say I save about $100. And for this school year, I only had to buy about 25 new items, with 10 to 12 of those being cleaning supplies, such as tissues and Ziploc bags. For items I do have to buy, I pay close attention to the unit cost of an item. Unless I feel the quality of an item is worth the extra money, I buy the item with the lowest unit cost. Then I combine coupons with store sales for the biggest savings.
Shopping for back-to-school supplies is a great opportunity to teach kids about money because it’s very tangible to them. Reusing school supplies helps to teach my kids that new is not necessarily better; that a little effort goes a long way; and that responsible purchasing and spending, not to mention recycling, are all important.”
Thanks for sharing, Bryna!