As soon as the stores start clearing out the Independence Day items from their seasonal shelves, it suddenly becomes one of my favorite times of year to wander through the seasonal areas of most stores. This is, of course, because that’s when they start filling those shelves with boxes of crayons that may cost as low as a quarter a box and glue sticks for a dime. What is there not to love about that? Or, maybe it’s just because I’ve been a school and office supply junkie since I was a kid.
Because of all of the sales and attention-grabbing displays, it can be easy to over spend or pick up a lot of things that you won’t really use (or just too much of the things that you would use). Of course, as homeschoolers, we only buy the school supplies that we actually want to pick up, not what a list tells us we must label with our child’s name and send in. But, there are still ways for us to be budget savvy and save money while picking up the things we need in our homeschool.
Ideas for Budget Savvy School Supply Shopping
Take Inventory of What You Already Have
While the sale on the spiral bound notebooks may be amazing at just a dime per notebook, it’s not necessarily a great deal if you already have 30 that you’re not using at home. If they’re taking up precious space and not being used, then they’re not a good deal at any price (although, if you just can’t help yourself, consider buying them for an organization in your area that might help the less fortunate with school supplies).
Watch for Sales
The same package of glue sticks that might be over a dollar one week could be just ten cents the next week. Try to be aware of the typical sales prices of many school supplies that you normally pick up. This can help you avoid picking up markers at $2.50 when you know that they often go as low as $0.99.
Don’t Spend More in Gas Than You’re Saving
While it’s a great idea to watch for sales before picking up the supplies that you’ll be using, be mindful of how often you’re driving to the store for them. It’s okay to go weekly if you live very close to a store. However, if you have a far drive, you’ll risk spending more on gas getting to the store for the deals, if that’s the only reason that you’re going.
Consider Spending More on High Quality Materials
While this may not seem very budget savvy, just keep in mind that really high quality materials may last longer than their cheaper counterparts. This is especially true with art supplies. As homeschoolers, we know that our supplies aren’t going to be used by other students or put into a general pool of supplies within a classroom. So, we can feel comfortable knowing that if we’re buying more expensive materials, they will be used specifically by our own children.
Buy Items that Serve Multiple Purposes
When you’re able to pick up items that can be used for multiple purposes, it can be a great excuse to spend more in order to get more use out of them. In our house, one thing we love is Microsoft Office, because of its fabulous multiple use properties. Really, it’s not only great as a school supply, but it’s great for the whole family! With applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, Microsoft Office 2010 is an amazing product to have installed on the computer, which your child can use for school.
With Microsoft Word 2010, your child can compose papers, try their hand at writing their own novel (it’s one of the formats that Amazon.com suggests for best formatting a book to publish on the Kindle), or creating an image-rich text since Word 2010 now offers great photo-editing and presentation options.
While I sometimes joke with my husband that Excel is my nemesis (since he wants to do everything in Excel), it really is just a joke. As a student of higher education for seven years, I couldn’t have made it without Excel’s amazing tables and graphs options. Every time I was able to make a graph with a few simple mouse clicks, it made me thankful that gone were the days of when I was in high school and had to make them all by hand. Likewise, your children can use Excel to make graphs and tables (a great way to better understand mathematical concepts).
Another one of those items I couldn’t have made it through college without was PowerPoint. Because PowerPoint has become such a staple in education and business, I was thrilled to work with my children last year on a PowerPoint project for 4-H. They loved the way that it made their information really shine and come together cohesively (I loved seeing them put together impressive presentations, even though they were just newly learning the program!).
OneNote is a great way to help your kids get more organized by allowing them to have virtual notebooks where they can collect notes, images, video, audio, and more. Another fun feature is that you can collaborate with other OneNote users. This offers an opportunity for your students to collaborate or to work with other families.
What are some of your favorite ways to save when buying supplies for the new school year?
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Disclosure: Angie partnered with BlogHer and Microsoft to bring you this post and promotional code today. Angie was compensated for her time in writing this post. (Disclosure Policy)