School Supplies on a Budget

The economy has caused a drastic reduction in the spending habits of most families. More thought and careful planning go into making any purchases. Shopping for anything requires careful budgeting and buying school supplies is no exception.

We no longer live in a time when a pencil and paper are the only supplies our children need for school. With each new school year we encounter longer supply lists and higher prices. Without careful planning when shopping for these items, we can spend more than we had intended to.

Regardless of the items needed for different classes, there are basic supplies that are usually listed each year. These would be pencils, pens, paper, crayons, glue, folders, and scissors. Of course, some classes will require particular items.

Many stores will clearance their school supplies at the end of the school year or during times when they’re not so high in demand. This is when I try to buy in large quantities.

Last year I bought 70-page composition books from Wal-Mart for $0.05 a case. The case consisted of 24 books of paper. They had a limit of 3 cases per customer so I bought 3 each time I went. I also had each member of my family buy 3. Although my children didn’t need them all then, they will eventually be used. I also donated many cases to supply boxes in stores for students who can’t afford to buy them.

Other items I have found to be considerably cheap at different times have been packs of no.2 pencils and boxes of 24 Crayola crayons. Most stores buy in bulk and will often do a drastic reduction on particular items to make room for others. Pencil packs of 12 or 24 can be found for $0.05 or $0.10 each. The same goes for crayons often sold at Wal-Mart during the summer months for $.25 a box. By always being on the lookout for supplies, I find a lot of good buys.

Another great way to shop for school supplies is during tax-free weekend. I just found out this year that if you put tax-free items in layaway during that weekend, it is still exempt from taxes when it’s picked up. This is a great way to purchase supplies or clothing that will be needed later in the year at a great price.

Also, during tax-free weekend many stores have bargain prices. Make sure to shop around and look at the sales ads for each retail store. Office Max offers wonderful savings.

The most important thing to remember when shopping for supplies is that although Wal-Mart is usually the cheapest on everything, other competitors are sometimes cheaper. Buy for years to come. Some basic supplies will always be needed so by buying them in bulk early, you can save a lot of money. They are non-perishable and will last until they’re needed.

Of course, don’t forget to clip coupons. Many people don’t like fooling with coupons because they just offer a savings of .25 or .30 cents. These savings add up. This is especially true when used for items on clearance.

The most important thing to remember when buying school supplies on a budget is to shop around. Be aware of which retailer is offering the best deal. Don’t be taken in by the misunderstanding that because each item on the list is inexpensive, it won’t cost much. These small things add up and often cost us more than we realize.

Smart shopping is a must nowadays. By constantly being aware of what’s on sale where, a lot of money can be saved.