Back to School Supplies

Back to school supplies: How to get the best for less

It's that time of year again. Store after store is putting up colorful signs designed to grab your attention. Retailers are doing their part to let you know that school is right around the corner and that you should buy from them for a good deal. They are loudly proclaiming that they have prices that are lower than everyone else, and they are trying to convince you to buy from them buying their supplies is the only way to save money.

Don't believe them.


There are many ways to save money without relying on sales and gimmicks. For instance, when bought in bulk, packs of notebook paper are much cheaper than bound notebooks. So, you can save money by buying notebook paper in bulk and using it to fill three-ring binders. This will also let you add dividers and tabs, reorganize the page order and add or remove paper anywhere you want. Then, when school is over, you can unclip the sides, recycle the used paper, refill the binder with blank paper and reuse it the next year.

A good maxim to remember is this: NEVER buy a pen or pencil on its own. Stores will sell them to you, but at incredibly high prices, even if they are "on sale." Always buy writing utensils in bulk. Also, before going out and buying mechanical pencils, consider this: for the price of a single refill for a single mechanical pencil, you can buy a box of wooden pencils that will last for months - and wooden pencils are impossible to jam.

Calculators are cheap. Unless you need to use a scientific or graphing calculator, you can pick one up from almost any store, and it should work fine. However, this is not the case with laptops. While flashy and nice to have, laptops are almost NEVER necessary for schoolwork (unless the student is differently abled and cannot write), and much of the time, they are more of a hindrance than a help. However, if you absolutely must have one, your best bet is to find a used laptop because otherwise they are extremely expensive, even if all you need to do with them is text editing.

School Supply List

Buying school supplies is an annual tradition for many people. To some, it symbolizes the coming of the next cycle of effort and learning, and they welcome it with anticipation and excitement. For others, it is a nightmare and a sign of impending doom. Either way, it shouldn't have to be expensive.

As long as you stick to only buying what your child actually needs for school, you shouldn't notice too much of a dent in your wallet. Here's a list of the essential items that every child needs for school:

Kindergarten to Third Grade

Third Grade to High School

By Kristopher Chambers