It seems like a lot of school supplies are requested at the start of the school year. And, because sales abound — we are all tempted to get these supplies in quantities greater than we are asked because of the “sale.” This year, try an approach that has saved me time and money.

Take the list and get only one

Take the long list of items your school sends of items needed for the classroom, but only buy one of each.  For example, don’t buy five reams of college-ruled paper now. They cannot hope to use that much right away — or even all year. Wait. Let them ask you for more when they run out. Otherwise, you will see the excess paper, as I did, jammed into an already crowded locker and no longer useful in the “jammed-in” condition. Yes, I know the paper is on sale now, but you will find out that you will save money when you end up buying two reams of paper, one at the sale price and one at the regular price, versus the five they want now.

Wait until after school starts

Get some of the basics so your child can show up to school ready to work. Then send a note to the teacher asking if everything on the school list is what the teacher wants your child to have. At the teacher’s direction, drop from the list what is not needed and then add what specific items this particular teacher requests. This way you will save money by not purchasing things your child’s teacher does not want or need to have. Use this “saved” money to pay for the specific supplies your teacher requests to meet their classroom needs.

Bought in bulk? Send only one of each

If you do buy in quantity, then only send one of each of those items to school.  Keep all extras at home ready and waiting for your child when they run out and need more. As a general rule, lockers are small and cramped and extra supplies get ruined. I have even seen kids throw out extra supplies that were in their way rather than take them home. (I am mentioning no names to protect my daughter’s friends!)

As a rule, I have found that waiting until school actually starts to get supplies is a much better and cheaper approach. Take advantage of the sales in a very limited way. Resolve not to get drawn into the sales frenzy at this time of the year. Just stick to your list and limit your quantities and keep all extras at home.

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Written by Susan Beacham
Susan Beacham founded Money Savvy Generation in 1999 after almost two decades in private banking and investment management complemented by considerable time teaching at the elementary level.

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