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How to save on school supply costs

Updated on September 10, 2015
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Erin Shelby is passionate about living a lifestyle that aims for financial freedom. She writes about personal finance and other topics.

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By Erin Shelby

Why are school supplies so expensive? That answer remains a mystery, but most parents wonder how to save on school supplies. Whether your child is about to enter the first day of kindergarten or an adolescent contemplating college, school supplies can be expensive. Trim your expenses with these tips to help you save money on back-to-school supplies.

Don’t Procrastinate for School Supplies

During your kids’ busy summer, school supply shopping is probably the last thing on your mind. But waiting until the month before school starts – or worse, the week before school starts – can mean that you’ll miss out on some amazing deals. Notebook paper, pens and pencils can all be bought for a penny per pack if you know where and when to shop. If you know where the best deals are – and this doesn’t mean compromising quality for a good price - you can do a little bit of shopping each week instead of making one big trip to save.

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Find Out Where the Deals Are

If you don’t already use coupons, you’re missing out. Entire websites are dedicated to this method of saving money. Coupon blogs exist not only to promote using coupons but to help shoppers see what’s on sale and explain where to get a coupon to use on that sale item. These websites are great resources to find back-to-school deals even if you don’t like the idea of using coupons. These same websites are the best way you can find out where to get notebook paper for a penny a pack. Sound good to you? Find a coupon website by doing a simple internet search.

Don’t Miss Out on Rebates

Why hang on to empty ink cartridges from your printer? Office supply stores sometimes have a recycling program to keep used printer cartridges out of landfills. These stores will offer shoppers a quarterly store credit in exchange for any used cartridge. It’s fast, easy and is good for the environment. Another feature these stores often promote is rebates on certain items. Mail-in rebates can help you save on more expensive items like computer paper.

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Get Back-to-School Clothing

Back-to-school clothing, especially clothing made in the USA, can be a big expense in any family budget. Don’t be misled by the promises of “outlet” stores – their prices aren't always competitive. Big-box chain stores promise big savings but are sometimes lacking when it comes to offering a variety of clothing. However, closeout stores that feature a variety of designers can be a treasure trove of savings and attractive clothing. If a closeout store isn’t near you, check the ads where you can shop and buy from the merchants providing the best deals. Some clothing stores offer coupons, so use this to your advantage as you shop for back-to-school clothing.

Another way to save on school clothes throughout the school year is to shop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Before you head to the mall, know what size your kids wear so you'll know if the prices make it a great time to stock up on basics or if the clearance rack is offering great deals. Depending on what you find, your kids could receive new clothes for now or clothes to wear for an upcoming season.

What's the biggest school expense for your family?

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© 2013 erinshelby

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    • Ceres Schwarz profile image

      Ceres Schwarz 3 years ago

      These are good tips on how to reduce the cost of school supplies. It is certainly a good idea to not procrastinate when it comes to shopping for school supplies. It's great to do a little research to find out where the best deals are so you won't miss out on anything.

    • erinshelby profile image
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      erinshelby 3 years ago from United States

      Thank you, Ceres!

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