It seems every year, America’s educational system suffers deeper and deeper government budget cuts. The consequences of these drastic reductions not only limit the ability of school districts to stock their institutions with basic supplies and necessities, but may eventually discourage many honorable and qualified people from joining the teaching profession.
Because of these cuts, parents are increasingly being asked to contribute more and more scissors and rulers; facial tissues, hand sanitizers; and paper and pencils than ever before, and unfortunately, what the parents don’t supply, the teachers must. On average, a schoolteacher will typically spend around $500 of their own money each year to keep their classrooms fully stocked, and of course, what they’re unable to cover, inevitably, lands on that list handed out to parents before the school year even begins. It’s no wonder moms and dads get a little frazzled come early September. There are a lot of ways, however, to lessen the blow when it comes to budgeting for school supplies.
You may be surprised to learn the first and best place to begin stocking up is at home. People are amazed at how much they’ve accumulated over the years when they do a sweep of all the kitchen junk drawers or cupboards; office desks; basement bins and garages. Collect all of those extra pens, pencils and erasers you come across in a small storage container or gallon-sized baggie and put away for the coming school year. Be sure to snap a picture of it with your cell phone so you have it on hand when you’re out shopping so as not to overstock on any one particular item.
Big box stores, as well as many stationery outlets like Staples and Office Max, will often start their back-to-school sales as early as June. Picking up a few things over the course of a summer can certainly alleviate the burden of that last-minute rush where you’re sure to pay a premium. Don’t forget the coupons and keep a watchful eye out for materials advertised in weekly circulars. Buying some items in bulk and splitting the cost with other parents or friends is another good way to save. Alternatively, skip the hassle of dashing from store to store altogether by shopping online from the comfort of your own home. It will prove harder to deviate from your list and make comparison shopping that much easier.
If you’re willing to wait a little bit, some of the best bargains can be had after the school year begins. Obviously, the essentials like notebooks and pencils may not be able to wait but clothing, shoes, binders and protractors to name a few are likely to be for sale at a much lower price after Labor Day than right at the beginning of the school year.
Incredible deals are also ripe for the picking at oft overlooked sources: your local thrift shop or neighborhood garage sale. It may take a bit of time and effort, but not only can you find rock-bottom prices on the basics like pencils and paper, but clothing, shoes and backpacks are much more affordable. The dollar store in your community can be a treasure trove when it comes to stocking up for school. In addition to being able to purchase the customary school supplies such as glue sticks; folders; rulers; dry erase markers and the like, other necessary bits and pieces such as cleaning wipes and sprays; resealable baggies; storage bins; and tissues can be had for next to nothing.
With these few tricks up your sleeve, it’s easy to become a savvy back-to-school shopper. Not only will you have the satisfaction of saving some money, but you’ll have the appreciation of a grateful, hard-working teacher.