Back-to-school season is just around the corner, and you know what that means: one big trip to your local office supply store to buy everything your child will need for the new year.
At first glance, the list always seems pretty straightforward—glue sticks, No. 2 pencils, three-ring binders and no glitter, please—so it's a bit of a shock when you later see the total amount on the checkout screen. Who knew school supplies could be so expensive?
Though you can't get away with avoiding school supply shopping altogether, we have a few handy tips to lessen the stress on your wallet.
1. Always scour the house first.
There's a good chance plenty of what you need is already tucked away in your kid's backpack, random kitchen drawers and even in the car. Reusing these supplies is not only cost-effective, it's also much better for the environment. Plus, only a little effort will turn these used items new again. Simply sharpen up those old pencils to perfect points and tear out the 10 used pages of last year's notebook. The planet and your bank account will thank you!
2. Stop by the dollar store.
Once you've scavenged around the house for a few things, it's time to stop by your local dollar store. If you're used to going straight to a larger store, you might be surprised how much of the exact same stuff is available for a significant discount. You might not be able to find everything you need, but you'll likely cross off all the basics—pens, pencils, sticky notes, etc. Plus, you'll teach your children there's nothing wrong with a little thrifting.
3. Look out for annual back-to-school sales.
Now that you've shopped at home and at a discount store, it's time to move on to the bigger chains. Make sure to look out for coupons; since these larger stores are anticipating the back-to-school rush, you can be sure there will be plenty of sales. Start checking stores' websites a week or two before you go shopping, follow stores on social media, sign up for their email alerts or simply download their mobile app to have all the weekly discounts at your fingertips.