The school year has yet to start, but one test has already been issued:
What’s the simplest way to get the most value for your money when buying back-to-school supplies?
It’s only one question, but a wrong answer could cost plenty.
My equation for affordable value: spend on quality + save everywhere else.
Before you head to the store, sort your shopping list into two categories following the “more” and the “less” guidelines below:
5 Items Worth Spending More For:
1 – A Backpack
In the best-case scenario, the bag your kid drags around will get squished, squashed, soaked and generally roughed up. You’ll want it to protect whatever is inside. My MEC backpack lasted me through university and 20 years later is still going strong.
2 – Food Containers
Squished bread, cold soups, and room-temperature applesauce. No thanks! Since you put all that time into crafting a delicious meal, serve it up at the temperature and consistency it was meant to be. You probably won’t have to hose-off as many leftovers (but just in case, choose something easily washable).
3 – A Pencil Case
It’s going to get stuffed to the brim, zipped and unzipped a dozen times a day. Avoid a mid-year disintegration by paying an extra few bucks for a well-crafted cloth case or a strong-structured plastic box.
4 – Binders
Over the course of a school year, kids flip open their binders over 1,000 times and transport them hundreds of kilometres. Protect their hard work and budget for a resilient, easily-organizable model.
5 – Scissors
For young kids, it’s worth spending on safety scissors—little fingers tend to fumble. Invest in a quality pair for teens as well, it will help those science displays look A+ perfect.
5 Items It’s Okay to Spend Less On:
1 – Pens, Markers, Crayons, and Pencils
They end up underneath desks, dried out in drawers or worn down to the nub. These disposable supplies are made for short-term use. You can choose a cheaper brand without sacrificing a great deal of quality.
2 – Note Paper
All those spelling tests, math homework and doodles are not going to end up in your memory book (hopefully just in your kid’s memory bank). Use sales, coupons or a trip to a discount store to stock up on loose and bound paper (Try the Flipp app to search local flyers). If you’re like me when something magical comes home, you’re already snapping and sharing it on your phone anyway.
3 – A Laptop, Computer, or Tablet
At this stage, it’s unlikely that your child’s assignments require any computer super-powers. Anything you buy today will depreciate by the next big tech announcement, so spend only what you need to get the homework done.
4 – Planner
If you did happen to splurge on some tech, take advantage of it. Your kid’s device can be a great source for calendar planning. Sit together and decide which app has features that are the most useful. Prefer paper? Most schools give out planners. Or, buy a small notebook and use it to map out daily homework assignments, birthdays and social events.
5 – A Ruler
Is the edge straight? Does it tell centimetres and inches? Will it last through a playground sword fight (maybe find one with rounded corners)? No need to break the bank on this one.
It’s that simple. In a few minutes of sorting your supplies into this two-part spending list you’ll have a back-to-school budget that saves you shopping time, saves you money, and is shareable for everyone who is doing the chore.
What other tips do you have for saving on back-to-school supplies? Comment below.