Saving on School Supplies

There are a few stores that always make my eyes light up when I walk through them: the hardware store, The Container Store, Your DeKalb Farmers Market, and the office supply store. ESPECIALLY the office supply store. I'm pretty convinced that one of the main reasons I used to get so excited about school starting is because it meant that I'd get new pencils, notebooks, folders, erasers, calculators, etc. Wow, I'm giddy just remembering.

But before I get you all hopped up on an Office Depot high, let's stop, take a breath, and plan a course of action. Here are a few tips for saving time and money while accumulating this school year's necessary supplies.

  • Take inventory of what you already have at home. Look in last year's school bags, your home office desk drawer and any other areas where extra school supplies may have landed. You know that junk drawer in the kitchen? It probably has plenty of pens and pencils to get you started. How do I know this? I've organized a LOT of junk drawers in my time. Plus, I'm a recovering pen hoarder.
  • Check out your local paper's circulars before shopping. Many stores will match the sales prices of other stores so pick the one with the lowest prices on your bigger ticket items and then see if they'll match their competitors' prices on the smaller stuff.
  • Bring your list. Unlike me, try and maintain some degree of self-control when purchasing office supplies. Buy what's on the school's list of the basics and get the heck out of the store. If you need extra support, take someone with you who is immune to the intoxicating smell of new notebook paper.
  • Buy throughout the year as sales come up. But be careful not to buy more than you have room to store. Occasionally, go through your backup inventory so you don't end up with duplication and lots of supplies that weren't needed.
  • Use stickers to jazz up less expensive but functional notebooks and folders. If the kids insist on upgrading to the flashier versions, have them pay the difference to help them learn valuable lessons about money.
  • Consider ordering supplies on line. is a convenient and comprehensive site that caters to elementary through high school supplies. Teachers also swear by for learning tools, games, stickers, and even software.
With a little planning and self-control, you can save a little while sending your student back to school armed with the tools to take on any class or project.

Back to School Made Easy: Clothes

I've always loved school. As a little girl, I would get giddy with anticipation at the thought of starting a new school year. Yeah, I know I'm a freak.

And so we have the new school year fast approaching for many and for some on an alternative annual schedule, it's already here! Throughout August, I'll be providing tips to help ease the chaos of getting kids ready for the new school year:


* Before starting your back-to-school shopping, take stock of what's already in your student's closets and drawers. This is a great time to pull everything out of their closets to determine (1) what still fits, (2) what's not being worn because your kid doesn't really like the garment or it's uncomfortable and scratchy, and (3) what pieces are needed to fill in the gaps.

* If the unwanted clothes are still in like-new condition, find a local consignment store and set up an account so that you can make a little money on your kid's castoffs.

* When you're ready to start shopping, bring a list of the garments you're looking for to flesh out your student(s) closet. Just like at the grocery store, a list helps you save time, stay focused, and minimizes trendy impulse purchase.

* Consider buying new clothes online as long as the seller has a flexible return policy. In my hometown of Atlanta, traffic is so crazy, it's worth it to buy stuff online just to avoid the stress and time of driving. Plus, you can avoid the crowds at the malls and discount stores during the back-to-school feeding frenzy.

* Remember those consignment stores I mentioned earlier? They are a GREAT place to buy clothes for kids, tweens, and teens. A friend of mine has a teen who has just discovered that he can sell his old clothes and get some really cool gently-used clothes in the same store. This new discovery is saving his parents a ton compared to what they'd have to pay to new stuff to keep up with their fickle teen's ever-changing taste in fashion.

Next time we'll discuss ways to save money and time getting school supplies.