How to spend less on school supplies.

Going back to school. Can be ominous. Can be scary. What's really scary, though, are the ever escalating costs of school supplies, yes? But wait, don't panic. Keep calm and study on. There are strategies for saving on school supplies that will make going back in just a few weeks a little less stressful.

Recycle old school supplies.
Go thru what your kid brought home in May and see what you can use again. Things like rulers, pencil boxes, and markers are usually items we use for more than one year. Let your kid decorate last year's pencil box over for this year with stickers, permanent markers, or paint. Then, it's an art project.

For high schoolers, it gets even easier. Have them clean out all their school binders from last year and use them again this year. they probably even have left over notebook and grid paper in there. Take the titles out of the tabs and use them again as well. I've found that older kids are not as hard on their supplies as certain 1st graders I know, so there are definitely more years of use in those notebooks.

Tear the written-on sheets out of spiral notebooks, and have those high schoolers start the year off with those half-sized notebooks. Again, they can decorate the heck out of them before school starts by gluing a plain sheet of construction paper to the front and painting, collaging, even hot-glue-gunning their own unique cover.

Get school supplies from people you know.
Hit your neighborhood garage sales and look for 3-ring binders, staplers, 3-hole punchers, electric pencil sharpeners, packages of unused notebook paper. I've found all of these at garage sales.

Ask your friends with kids to do a supply swap with you. You have extra packs of crayons left from last year. They have extra boxes of paint and theme notebooks. Swap.

Local businesses often give away pencils and other supplies this time of year. Sure, it'll have your bank's logo on the pencil, but it was free.

Get deals on school supplies at store sales.
July and August are the hottest months for school supplies every year. Staples usually does 5¢ items every week. Office Depot 1¢ items. You'll find 25¢ basics at stores like Target and Walmart as well. If you start a few weeks before school starts, and only go buy those penny items every week, by the time you get the actual list, you'll only have a few items left to buy.

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