Nine ways to save on school supplies

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Stock up and save: Buying school supplies in bulk provides parents with the most bang for their buck. | FILE PHOTO

The back-to-school season is fast approaching. This is a time of school bus traffic on the roads, anxious parents snapping first-day-of-school photos, and children meeting their new classmates and forging new friendships.

This time of the year is also when parents and students must shop for school supplies. Tradition dictates that families flock to stores to shop for folders, binders, pens and protractors. Caught up in the moment, many shoppers choose convenience over low prices. Parents could end up at the check-out line with a considerable bill to pay, particularly if they are shopping for multiple students. Buying items in bulk — and sharing the cost — is a more affordable option.

Although it can be easy to procrastinate and wait until school starts to buy supplies, it might be prudent to shop before the new school year begins. Many teachers, in an attempt to help parents save money, publish school supply lists online in advance of the school year. Most teachers do not vary their requirements from year to year, so if your son or daughter has been assigned a teacher, ask last year’s students to see what that teacher requires. This way you can head to the store or comparison shop online at your convenience.

Some supplies are standard regardless of class assignment. These include pens and/or pencils, folders, spiral notebooks, copy paper, looseleaf paper, erasers, crayons, markers and highlighters. Purchased individually, the per-unit cost of each item may be higher than purchasing these items in bulk. This is when the advantage of buying in bulk shines through. Here are some helpful hints for parents shopping for school supplies.

1. Shop for frequently used items in bulk, whether from online wholesalers or through a warehouse store for which you are a member.

2. Collaborate with a few different parents to chip in for school supplies. Then one parent does the shopping and splits the supplies with the others.

3. Keep a stockpile of supplies at home. They do not expire, and next year you may not have to shop at all.

4. Having extra supplies on hand enables duplicate sets for at home and in school for consistency.

5. Some parents like to buy many supplies and then donate some for underprivileged children. This time of year manufacturers or retailers could actually donate a portion of school supply proceeds to some educational organizations.

6. Buying larger quantities of supplies could enable you to build up rewards points at certain retailers. This may entitle you to future coupons or dollar awards that can be put toward more expensive items, including tablets or graphing calculators.

7. Contact the teacher and see if you can volunteer to buy all of the supplies in bulk for the entire class, with each student then paying the required amount. This will save many families time and effort.

8. If you have a friend or family member who is a teacher, find out if he or she can purchase your school supplies. Often teachers are eligible for discounts.

9. Purchase bulk quantities of certain supplies and find out if they can be sold as a fundraiser for the school. A portion of the sales will go to the PTA.

Buying school supplies in bulk can save money and provide an opportunity to give something back to the school community.

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