The end of Summer swiftly approaches, and with that comes back-to-school shopping. If you’re cringing over how much you know those school supplied are going to cost you, then you’ll want to read how America’s Cheapest Family saves on school supplies.
Annette and Steve Economides, along with their five children, make up America’s cheapest family. They are New York Times best-selling authors of more than one book, and they spent 77 percent less than the USDA estimated to raise their five children. They also write about their frugality—and how you can save money too—on their blog.
Here are their five tips on how to save on school supplies. It can be a financially rough time, especially for a family with several small children, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
“50.1 million students will attend public elementary and secondary school so if you do the math $68 billion divided by 50 million students it comes out to about $1360 per student . . . which seems really high to us,” write the Economides on their website.
So how do you avoid spending a pretty penny?
#1 – Take inventory before you shop
The Economides say the best way to save money is to have all of the children gather all of their school supplies together. You can then organize it on a flat surface to see what you already have. You can then redistribute supplies among the kids and make a list of what you actually need.
“If our public and private schools did this one exercise, the savings would total into the millions, perhaps even billions of dollars,” they say.
#2 – Stock up on Loss-Leaders
For the things you have to buy, make sure you purchase the “loss-leaders,” which are the advertised sales that bring people into the store; loss-leaders lose money for the store but bring in revenue because people often buy other things as well. Stores like Staples and OfficeDepot have some of the lowest prices out there, say the family. To find out their loss-leaders, go online to find their flyer.
The Economides especially recommend looking out for penny deals and five cent deals during the first two weeks of back-to-school sales.
If you can’t find what you want, then check at Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Target, or Kmart for their best deals. The grocery store should always be your last resort because it doesn’t have a good selection and prices are often higher.
#3 – Evaluate Your Time versus Your Money
Some schools offer pre-packaged back-to-school supplies to make it easier for parents to pick up supplies. It saves time for the parents, and it’s also a fundraiser for schools.
“If you have excess money in your household budget, but don’t have a lot of time, this can be an easy way to solve the back-to-school shopping issue and help out your school at the same time,” write the Economides.
#4 – Using Price Match to Your Advantage
Most Staples, Walmart, and Target locations match advertised prices on brand-name products. During back to school season, carry all the ad flyers you have collected around with you.
“It’s a good practice to keep the ads in a folder or bag in your car, so they’re not forgotten . . . this is a war for your wallet,” writes the couple.
#5 – It’s More than School Supplies
Not just school supplies are on sale during back-to-school season. Also look to stock up on things for your home office, crafting corner, or work. You can also purchase Christmas gifts or stocking stuffers at discounted prices.
The Economides end with one final reminder: don’t overbuy if you can’t afford it, even if the deal is amazing.
“Paying credit card interest for several months will wipe out your savings.”
If you'd like to read more about how to save money, her are five tips on how to save on grocery shopping.