Well, school supplies can be a killer . . . especially when multiplied by 4! But if you do it correctly, you can save quite a bit. Stores have amazingly cheap deals on a few items each week (for example, this week I got folders for a penny a piece -- limit 10, you know). If you look through the ads and make your lists according to the get-you-in-the-door, crazy-cheap deals, you can tackle your entire supply list for much less than you think.
On Tuesday night Rebekah and I headed out to get this weeks bargains. We went to 4 stores (Walgreens, Staples, Office Max and Target), were gone for a couple hours and saved probably $70 on school supplies and only spent about $60 -- not including Jacob's fancy schmancy calculater that was on sale for $90 (down from $130, plus I got 10% for using my Target card, plus my bonus 5% off, so I paid about $87 with tax). Plus, I submitted my online rebate with Staples and will be getting $13 dollars back just about the time that field trip money starts coming due!
Even if we don't need certain items, I'll buy them if they are the ultra-good-deal-of-the-week and then donate them to our churches school supply drive for urban schools in our area. For example, I don't need very many pencil top erasers this year, but at 10 cents a package, I bought the limit. A 2-pack of Sharpies for a quarter? Yes, please. I'll take my limit of those as well.
We still have a few things on our list that we haven't gotten, but there are a few weeks of ads left and if those items haven't been on sale by then, I guess I'll just play full price for the last couple items and still have saved a bundle!
Another great way to save is to re-use. Make sure the end of the year that your kids bring home their salvageable stuff from the previous year. Little pencil sharpeners, rulers, pencil boxes and scissors can all be re-used. Plus, I re-sharpen colored pencils and call it good. Who needs them to be new when you only use about 10% of the pencil in a whole year anyway? Not us, that's for sure! Notebooks with only about 12 pages written in? Just rip out those 12 pages and the notebooks as good as new. I've never yet had a kid that used every single page in their notebook. Have you?
It takes a little time and research and you have to travel to more than one place, but fortunately we've got all the powerhouse places within a mile or two, so it's no big deal for us. Well worth the effort, I'd say! Happy shopping!
Oh, and if you have to send the kids to school with SHARPENED pencils, I highly recommend Ticonderoga pencils. They really are the best and sharpen up better than anything I've tried. And when you have multiple kids that each need to bring 48 sharpened pencils, you'll thank me. I promise! They are more expensive, it's true, but I think it's money well spent (and I'm a pretty frugal girl.)