13 - 2009

Back to school supply savings

We’re in the heart of summer, which means parents and kids alike are simultaneously reveling in the long days of summer that remain, and wondering that so much of summer is already in the past.

But July is the perfect time to start stocking up on school supplies, apparently. We don’t have our school supply lists yet, but certain things are a given. Because Mr. Cheap is a teacher, he’s planning to spend about $60 stocking up on things his kids always need but that — toward the end of the year — nobody has anymore.

We started scanning the sales fliers in yesterday’s paper, but fortunately, MSN’s SmartSpending has put together a wrap-up of the deals this week at various chain retailers. The best deals of all are the 1-cent loss leaders at Staples, where you can get a ream of copy paper or an 8-pack of pencils for one penny.

To make your school supply purchases a little bit greener (as well as frugal), keep these points in mind:

  • Buy only what you need, especially of plastic-based items and/or items that might go bad, like glue sticks that dry up or markers.
  • If you can afford it, check whether you can buy a recycled item (like paper) instead of new.
  • Choose paper-based items like notebooks, folders and binders instead of their plastic cousins. You might think plastic can be reused, but in reality, even the plastic items tend to be trashed after a year.
  • Don’t automatically buy a new backpack, lunchbox, etc. every year. Don’t set up the expectation that long-lasting items will be replaced automatically — even if it is fun to choose a new bag. Remind yourself that it’s only going to be sat on and dragged through the dirt all year anyway.
  • Check for reusable items — like refillable pens and pencils — instead of throwaways.

And of course, be grateful that for a few more weeks, back-to-school is just about shopping, not about packing lunches, shuttling kids and hollering about bedtime.

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