School Supplies on a Budget

Buying school supplies for school aged children does not have to break the bank of parents on a tight budget. While parents on a tight budget must be frugal, buying cheap does not have to be part of the process. For parents on a tight budget the distinction between cheap and inexpensive is very important.

The main issue for parents who are on a tight budget is to make sure their children are adequately supplied for school. Most teachers I know have a suggested school supply list they give to parents. The problem with suggesting school supplies is agreeing on what is important or absolutely needed and what is useful, but not necessary. Another factor parents must mull over is; buy cheaply, as in low quality, or buy expensively.

Parents should look at several factors when purchasing items for school. Parents with more than one child in school will certainly have to spend more than parents with just one child. And parents with students in middle and high school will usually spend more money on school supplies than parents of elementary school aged children. In any case, parents should start looking early for bargain prices. Most stores like Target, K-Mart, and Meijer’s have back to school sales on everything from paper and pencils to scissors, crayons and rulers. Office supply stores like Staples and Office Max often have sales on calculators, compasses, flash drives, notebooks, file folders, paper and other items requested by teachers. These office supply stores can also be found online, so parents can save time looking for items needed before going shopping, or they can just shop on line. There are also numerous online school supply stores that parents can access for school supplies. Because at the middle school and high school level the supply list becomes a little more complicated and expensive, parents will want to seek out the best deals. For example many students in high school must have a graphic calculator. Such an item can often run in the hundreds of dollars brand new. However, if parents start shopping early they may be able to purchase some supplies from online auction places like EBay, and Craig’s list for the fraction of the cost of a new one. Parents, who do not have internet access, may want to try the local library or ask a friend who has a computer. To purchase online parents will need to have an email address.

Another way to save on school supplies is to cut coupons, it may take some time, but the savings can be substantial. Coupons can be found in most newspaper supplements, but also online. Many office supply stores will offer coupons for certain items to get the shopper in the store. Parents need to be smart shoppers and buy only those coupon items. They should not allow themselves to be swayed into buying something not needed.

School supplies are not the only thing parents have to budget, they also have to include clothing. Parents should shop around the best sales are. On the other hand, Parents should be careful that they are not running all over town spending money on gas looking for bargains. A smart way to shop is to plan the shopping day with the coupons, and sales flyers in hand, and plan a route that uses the least amount of time and gas.

Last, for those parents who absolutely cannot afford to buy school supplies and new clothes for their children there are organizations that they can call for help. Some places like the Salvation Army, St. Vincent DePaul, and Good Will have second hand clothes at very inexpensive prices. Parents may also seek help from the Office of Family Assistance, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families for clothes and school supplies even on a tight budget. The cost savings can be substantial.