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The Teachers’ Guide to Back-to-School Savings

The Teachers’ Guide to Back-to-School Savings

According to some estimates, teachers can spend up to $500 of their own money on things for their classroom and students over the course of a school year, much of that before the first day.

Every little bit of savings helps, so we’ve put together some best practices to help you save as much as possible and still being able to concentrate on preparing yourself for the coming school year. 

Take part in a supply swap

Before you go shopping, you should find out exactly what you need. Teachers and parents alike have taken to social media groups to swap, trade, and redistribute the supplies that have carried over from previous years. At school, organize a swap meet as one of the first activities with other teachers the week before classes begin. If you can’t wait that long, reach out to everyone you can through social media, such as a Facebook or Twitter group. Also, work with local parents to broaden the inventory. You may be able to get a lot of the things on your list simply by trading items you have no use for anymore.

Leverage your state’s sales-tax holiday 

Many states waive sales tax on back-to-school items at some point in the weeks leading up to the school year. For your state’s status, check out this list. Pay attention to what’s included in the holiday and what isn’t; many states no longer exempt expensive electronics purchases. Also note that retailers tend to run their best sales during the weeks before the school year starts for even more of a savings effect. 

Browse thrift shops and dollar stores 

Many thrift shops have now started carrying new, generic consumable items, such as pencils and sheet paper, at extraordinary values compared to name-brand items at the larger retailers and online stores. The same goes for dollar stores. If you have no preference of where your crayons and glue sticks come from, check these stores before braving the masses at the big-box stores. 

While you’re at the thrift shop, check for gently used furnishings for your room. The right cushions and seating can make your room more flexible and inviting for students without breaking the bank.

Do your research

When it does come time to go to the big stores, there’s a lot of competition out there. Sites like Passion for Savings organize relevant ads and sales materials from the major retailers so that you can comparison shop without getting lost in search engines.

Apps like ShopSavvy go one step further, conducting a comparison search while you’re in the store just by scanning the barcode of the item you’re interested in. You might find that same laptop is cheaper down the street or online.

Take advantage of teacher discounts

Many retailers offer teacher discounts, especially at this time of the year. Sites like Brad’s Deals and My Education Discount organize those offers for you. Also, check with your unions, both at the national and local level. They’ve often negotiated discounts on your behalf. 

Looking for more ways to save your classroom money this upcoming school year? Check out this list of the top five educational grants for the 2018–19 school year!