Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

WFMW: Saving Money on School Supplies

It's almost that time of year, when we all rush to Target or Kmart or Walmart or even Staples to spend our hard earned cash on school supplies. Yes, I know that when WE were kids, all we had to buy was a binder and some pencils, but times have changed. A lot. School departments hard pressed for cash have required parents to purchase more and more supplies for the classroom. Public schools aren't that bad compared to private schools. Private schools can put anything on the list of required supplies, and often do. I've bought kleenex, purell, soap, even toilet paper "for the classroom."

Now that my kids are older, we don't have to buy as many school supplies, but the ones we do have to get are expensive! This year we have to buy two graphing calculators that range in price from $100 to $200 each. Joy oh joy! But the kids need them for math. They don't provide them in school and they have to have them for homework as well.

Now, one thing I've learned over the years is that items like graphing calculators are only used for a year or two, and then are tossed into a drawer when the kids go off to college. So I use Freecycle right after graduation to find the items I know they're going to need. For free! It took me a couple of months, but I found two of them and saved myself several hundred dollars.

For smaller items, like gluesticks (what do kids DO with all those gluesticks?) and writing implements I am like a vulture all year long. When I see a sale on school supplies, no matter when in the school calendar we are, I buy what I know they'll need. I keep a paper bag under my desk filled with supplies I've gotten, and when the kids need them, they just go into the paper bag.

All year long I add to the bag, and even in the middle of summer, these are just some of the items I've pulled out of the bag.

We'll have to buy new binders and some spiral notebooks, but that's pretty much all I'll need to get come Sept when school starts here. Instead of shelling out a huge amount of money each fall, I end up spending less than half what I would, and we always have plenty of supplies on hand.

One more thing: backpacks. I have found over many years that it is worth it to spend money on a really good backpack instead of buying a new one every year. My son has been carrying his LLBean backpack for 3 years now, and it's going to see him through his senior year as well. If you have never bought an LLBean backpack, they TOTALLY rock. We've tried many different brands over the years, and none of them have stood up like the LLBean.

My daughter also has one, but she's way too cool these days to carry a backpack. No way! She carries a series big fancy purses and totes, each matching her outfits. Because nothing says "girly" like a huge silver lame bag.

Stocking up on school supplies all year round really works for me!

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Blogger Andie said...

GREAT idea! Staples had a REALLY good sale a few weeks ago, pkgs of pencils for a penny! Folders for a penny! I bot TONS...the limit was 10 of each, but since I'm a teacher I can purchase 30. So, once I sent each of my kids through with their ten limit, and myself with my 30, I spent just about $3 and got so many supplies!

23/7/08 11:41 AM  
Blogger Domestic Spaz said...

I hear you on the school supplies. We buy Kleenex, Ziplocs, Paper Towels, Purell, Dry Erase Markers for the teacher... it's insane.

23/7/08 11:54 AM  
Blogger Carol said...

Oh, I'm learning a lot here. I can already see myself being a more frugal school supply shopper. Thanks for your tips!

23/7/08 2:04 PM  
Blogger Mari said...

I HEART freecycle!!

23/7/08 6:13 PM  
Blogger Daisy said...

This is the best time of year to stock up, too. I have my students buy two of every folder and notebook now while they're cheap.

23/7/08 7:29 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Oh, I'm SOOOO happy that you love the LL Bean backpacks! I was wondering about them for my kids for this coming year - now I no longer have to wonder!

My kids' PUBLIC school requires I send a package of copy paper with each kid. And dry erase markers. And kleenex. It sure does get out of hand!

Costco is also a great place to buy things like glue and pens for the whole bunch.

Great post, by the way!

23/7/08 10:09 PM  
Blogger Muthering Heights said...

Great tips! They make total sense!

23/7/08 10:50 PM  
Blogger LisaS said...

I actually do most of my stocking in July & August, when you can get notebooks, folders, glue sticks etc at ridiculous low price. and I shop the clearance aisle at Target right after Labor day, when all that stuff is marked down even more!

I may have to try the LLBean Bags. I'm tired of buying new backpacks every year. Last year the Boy actually got two.

24/7/08 11:18 AM  
Blogger Janice said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

26/7/08 7:11 AM  

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