Save money with these tips during back-to-school season
Heading back to school can be pricey but there are ways to save valuable dollars as you get what you need
Maybe you’re ready, maybe you wish it could be summer all year long — either way, school supplies are hitting the shelves and school is just around the corner.
With the cost of registration, school supplies, new clothes, etc., back-to-school shopping can really add up — especially if you have multiple kids.
We’ve got the scoop on back-to-school shopping on a budget. Read on for tips, tricks, and advice to help make the transition back to the classroom a little bit smoother.
Thank you to Christie Clinic for presenting our 2022 Champaign-Urbana Area Back to School series.
Christie Clinic wants you to give your kids a healthy start to the school year. Parents can currently make back-to-school appointments for their children through the MyChristie patient portal or by using online scheduling at christieclinic.com. Find more information about school physicals at Christie Clinic click here.
Check out our entire Back to School Series, presented by Christie Clinic:
- Back to School: 9 Tips to Prepare for the School Routine
- Champaign-Urbana Area School Start Dates
- Champaign-Urbana Area School Registration Information for 2022-23
- Money-Saving Tips for Back-to-School Shopping
- Back to School: Dental, Vision Exams Required for Illinois Students
- Back to School: Immunizations Required for Illinois Students
- School Physicals: What’s Required for Illinois Students in 2022
Inventory your home
Don’t be afraid to reuse school supplies from previous years. Reusing and recycling isn’t just environmentally friendly but also easier on the pocketbook. Gather up as many “school-approved” supplies around the house you can find and mark things off the list before you even get to the store. As one reader pointed out, “The new crayons are only new until the first time they are used!”
Hit up new shopping spots
Many of us head to the traditional big box stores like Walmart, Target, or Meijer to get our school supply shopping done, but don’t overlook some of the other options in town. Staples, Dollar Tree, CVS Pharmacy, Menards (earn rebates!), and even yard sales can be a great place to find good deals. We’re told by multiple sources The IDEA Store has a great inventory of very affordable school supplies.
Shopping online is another good option since it’s easier to compare prices at different locations. Many of the stores, like Target, offer free curbside pick-up. Others swear by buying school supplies on Amazon.
Shop early and spread it out
Shopping early and buying a little bit at a time will help you spread out the cost. Some recommend shopping r-e-a-l-l-y early, as in buy-in-bulk the previous year when items go on ‘clearance’ and then store them for the next year.
However, even if you wait until the last minute, don’t fret. Plenty of parents prefer to wait until school starts to see what their students actually need.
A kindergarten teacher recommends sending in individual supplies for students and then checking with teachers about sending in “communal” items such as tissues and wipes later in the year. (It helps with storage in the classroom as well.)
Keep an eye out for sales
Most stores will be boasting their doorbuster sales so watch for those deals. If you’re willing to go to multiple stores, you can purchase the cheapest deal at each one. Don’t forget to take advantage of in-store coupons such as Mperks at Meijer or use the Target Circle app for extra discounts.
This year, Illinois will have a sales tax holiday just in time for back-to-school shopping. While this can be a great way to save money, make sure you’re ready to shop around. Some readers noted that pickings might be slim during the tax holiday as families rush out to get items for school.
Stick to the list
It can be difficult, especially when you see those nostalgic Trapper Keepers or scented markers, but try to stick to the school list. Those cutesy extras can add up quick and in the end they’re just not necessary. Plus, as one reader (who is also a kindergarten teacher) pointed out, some brands just work better than others and that’s why they ask for them on the list. “I get that you want to buy your kid the sparkly pencils and not the boring yellow number 2s. But when those pencils constantly break and the child needs to sharpen it — (multiply that by) 24 kids and a teacher is fixing supplies and not teaching!”
Shop with a friend and split costs
When your child needs four glue sticks but can only find them in packages of 10, shopping with a friend and splitting the cost can really come in handy. Warehouses like Costco and Sam’s Club are great options for this.
Listen to advice
We asked our Facebook readers for their advice on back-to-school shopping. Here are some of their responses:
“You may want to ask around to see if anyone you know with older kids has leftover supplies they’d give you. For example, kids scissors tend to be outgrown before they wear out.”
“I understand it is hard but teachers don’t specify Crayola to be difficult. Good supplies help us assess your child. Certain crayons color better than others. Certain scissors cut better than others. If a child is struggling we don’t always know if it is their skill or the equipment. That’s why everyone having the same supplies is helpful.”
“I always keep the things that get sent home at the end of the year to use the following year. A new box of crayons is great but once they get used they aren’t new – so no need to waste what you already have!”
“As an elementary teacher I will say that’s it’s better to buy a small amount of high quality supplies than a large amount of poor quality supplies. If you can’t afford the wipes, tissue, sanitizer now then buy some later in the year when the teacher may be getting low.”