So when it came time to purchase school supplies, did she run out to Wal-Mart and purchase the brand new, perfect, yellow and green box of Crayola crayons? Oh no. She sorted through our bucket of miscellaneous crayons and pulled together 24 non-broken crayons…each color that I needed….and put them in a sandwich bag. I am not kidding! I was mortified. I’m trying to remember if she also pulled together assorted colored construction paper from our home art supplies…or if I made that memory up in my head because I was afraid she might do that one day! Note to self: Ask my Mother just how far she went to save 50 cents.
Another year, when my sister and I were tired of our Mork and Mindy lunch boxes (it was the 80’s, what can I say?) she helped us wash and scrape off the Mork and Mindy design, and then we got to put stickers all over the front and paint pen our names in cute writing. I’m sure it was cute, but not as cool as my best friend’s perfect, new Strawberrry Shortcake lunchbox. Boy, did I envy her lunch box.
So, now that I’m a parent, while I should strive to save money wherever I can, I commit that my children will never know the pain of a sandwich bag of crayons! (Love ya, Mom!)
So, are you one of those really organized people who get of all your kids’ school supplies super early? Or, are you like me, and wait until a week or two before school starts when the aisles and bins are a mess and everything’s been picked over?
Generally you can approach school supply shopping one of three ways:
- In many cities, you can pre-order them through the school district and skip all the “fun”. They are delivered to your school and you’re done. It’s like the School Supply Fairy just took care of it with one zap of her wand. In my city, the average cost to order supplies is about $35. My experience has taught me that it costs far less to purchase them yourself, but I’m sure for many busy parents, the convenience factor wins.
- Go early. Actually, make that now. Just go now. While everything is still nicely organized and they have enough for everyone. Last year I had to go to 3 stores to find 12×18 assorted construction paper and a yellow folder with brads. This year, I went early and they had everything I needed on my first (and last) trip!
- If you’re someone who doesn’t mind trekking all over town to various stores on the hunt for deals (perhaps you consider it a challenge!) then this website is for you. They have tracked sales at the major chains and done a lot of the homework for you. I tend to feel it’s not worth my time and gas in the summer heat to run to Big Lots, then Staples, then Dollar Tree, then Wal-Mart… I’m not sure I’m saving any money at that point.
I went to Target today and completed all my supply shopping in one easy trip. The only drama I encountered was explaining to my 3 year old that her big sister must have a red folder with brads, and we can’t get the Frozen one. I didn’t total everything down to the penny, but I think I spent about $15 for my first grader. Not bad at all! (That doesn’t include a backpack or lunchbox…last year’s is still in great shape.)
So what is your position on purchasing store brands versus name brands? Most schools/teachers specifically ask for Crayola and Elmers, for example. I am very tempted to buy the cheaper brands instead, but I agree the quality and durability of the materials won’t be as good. So, I understand why the teachers are specific, and for most items, I buy exactly what was requested. On the other hand, there’s a part of me that resents being told what kind of crayons or erasers I need to buy. I’ll let my budget do the deciding on that, thankyouverymuch!
Happy school supply shopping, everyone!