Back-to-school supplies get really expensive, really quickly. This is especially the case if you have more than one student.
Parents, we know you want to save money on back-to-school supplies where you can. But we also know that you don’t want to skimp on the quality of important things. You may have heard an old saying that goes something like, “I’m too poor to buy cheap.” The reality is that there are certain areas you can afford to buy super cheap supplies. But some back-to-school supplies are too crucial to get the cheap stuff.
Why? Because the daily locker/backpack/school toll a student puts on school supplies is roughly the equivalent of a pinata at a third-grade birthday party. Your student’s school supplies will take a beating.
So where can you save, and where should you spend a little extra to get heavy duty back-to-school supplies? Try these tips as a rough guideline:
Back-to-school supplies where you can save a buck:
The following school supplies are essentially all the same. While you can get premium supplies if you’d like, there really isn’t any good reason to do so. Shoot for cheap here to save some bank.
- Loose-leaf notebook paper
- Single-subject spiral notebooks
Back-to-school supplies where quality is more important than price:
Quality of these next back-to-school supplies will actually matter, and sometimes in a big way. While you can find deals on each of these, you need to find one whose quality will hold up to the needs of your student. Depending on the organization system your student is using, you may have different needs. But your student’s grades may depend on the quality of these two school supplies in particular.
1. Three-Ring Binders
This is usually the workhorse for a student’s organization system. Depending on the way your student’s school wants them keeping things organized (one massive binder, one binder per class, or something slimmer and simpler like StudyRight’s assignment-first organization system taught in any of our courses), the quality needed can span the spectrum from “not-flimsy” to “super-heavy-duty.”
If your student is especially brutal on his or her school supplies, consider getting something with a zipper on it, too. These will likely be thrown around, sat on, and — if they break — will result in lost assignments and poor grades. Get quality here.
2. Multi-subject spiral note-books
If your student has to use a 3, 5, or 7-subject spiral notebook, you want to invest in a high quality product here. For a one-subject spiral, go for the cheapest ones (I use several that cost me $.17 each). But the bigger the spiral is, the higher quality you should get. You can get a good one from Five Star for about $5. It’s not a significant investment, but higher quality will definitely stand up better for this supply.
Back-to-school supplies where quality matters, but it’s not necessarily connected to price:
Pens. This is it. Pens are all over the map. Sometimes you spend a lot of cash on a quality pen only to have it quit on you just a few weeks into the semester. Sometimes cheap-o-depot pens will work for years.
You need to find one that works for your student, but the pens I have consistently had the best success with are Cristal Ballpoint pens from BIC. They are super cheap, but they never quit on me. Find some that work for your student, but know that quality and price aren’t necessarily related when it comes to pens.
Finally, we know you have thoughts on this too, and we’d love to hear them on social media. What are your tips for saving money on back-to-school school supplies?