By Kelly Youngblood
It’s only the beginning of July and it feels like summer has just started, but school supplies are already lining the shelves of local retail stores. (Note: all children moan at the same time.)
With the cost of registration, school supplies, new clothes, etc., back to school purchases can really add up – especially if you have multiple children.
We’ve compiled a list of our top back to school shopping tips to help you stay on a budget and make your summer to school transition a little smoother.
Many thanks to Christie Clinic for presenting our 2021 Champaign-Urbana Area Back to School series.
Christie The clinic encourages parents to schedule a school exam soon.
Physical appointments at the start of school will now make it possible Christie Clinic, Department of Pediatrics and Department of Family Medicine to help all patients in the best possible way while ensuring a safe visiting environment. Reinforced precautionary measures are in place to ensure the safety of patients and team members, including additional opening hours, visitor restrictions, and social distancing to reduce the number of people in our facilities.
Parents can currently make back-to-school appointments for their children via their MyChristie patient portal or online at christieclinic.com.
Take inventory of your home
Don’t be afraid to reuse school supplies from previous years. Reuse and recycling are not only environmentally friendly, they are also easier on the wallet. Gather as much school-approved materials around the house as you can find and cross items off the list before you even get to the store. As one reader emphasizes: “The new colored pencils are only new until they are used for the first time!”
Discover new shopping opportunities
Many of us go to the traditional large retail stores like Walmart, Target or Meijer to do our school supplies, but don’t overlook some of the other options in town. Staples, Dollar Tree, CVS Pharmacy, Menards (earn discounts!), And even garage sales can be great places to find great deals. We are told by multiple sources that the IDEA Store also has a large inventory of very affordable school supplies.
Shopping online is another great option as it is easier to compare prices in different locations. One reader says she looks at her lists and starts multiple online shopping carts to calculate the cheapest cost. Many of the stores also offer free in-store pickup so there are no additional fees for delivery. Others swear by buying school supplies from Amazon.
Shop and distribute early
Shopping early and buying little by little will help spread the cost. Some recommend buying very early, like last year buy-in bulk when items go on sale and then store them for the next year.
But even if you wait until the last minute, don’t worry. Many parents prefer to wait until school starts to see what their students actually need.
“Children don’t need everything (on) the first day. Ask the teacher what is needed in the first few weeks and focus on that and then add things as the year goes on. “
A kindergarten teacher recommends sending in individual materials for the students and then inquiring with the teachers about sending in “common” items such as handkerchiefs and handkerchiefs later in the year. (It also helps with storage in the classroom!)
Keep an eye out for sales
Most stores will be bragging about their doorbuster sales, so watch out for these deals! If you are ready to go to multiple stores, you can get the cheapest deal in each one. Don’t forget to take advantage of in-store coupons like Mperks at Meijer or use the Target Circle app for additional discounts.
Stick to the list
It can be tricky, especially when you see those nostalgic trapper keepers or fragrant markers, but try to stick to the school list. Those cute extras can add up quickly and simply aren’t necessary in the end.
Back to school shopping is also a great way to teach your kids how to budget. First, set a dollar amount and let them select the items on the list without going over budget.
Shop with a friend and share the cost
If your child needs four glue sticks but can only find them in packs of 10, shopping with a friend and sharing the cost can be very convenient.
Listen to the advice
We asked our Facebook readers for their advice on back-to-school shopping. Here are some of their answers:
“Keep an eye on prices, share larger packages with someone or save up for next year, don’t buy the cute things (only what’s on the list), Ticonderoga and Crayola crayons, markers / crayons are well worth the money, expensive folders tear just as high as the 20 cents. “
“My children use what they can from year to year! It feels wasteful to get new markers, colored pencils, etc. when the ones from last year are still usable. We’re also trying to find folders sturdy enough to get a couple of years of this and even notebooks. Also, buy in bulk if you can. I have 4 kids so I bought bulk packs from Amazon of things they all need like glue sticks, erasers, and Ticonderoga pencils, then we split them up. So much cheaper! “
“Different shops usually have different“ door openers ”to attract customers with the idea that you can come into the door with 50 ¢ colored pencils and do all your shopping with them. I create my lists and have 4 online shopping baskets in operation and compare the prices. I only buy the cheapest in any store. Between Staples, Target and Office Depot, you can get a free in-store pickup and cover almost your entire list of sales items from the comfort of your couch. “
“My kids started (on their own) keeping things from school that were unused or that could be reused from the previous year: rulers, scissors, notebooks, binders, etc. They went through them at the end of the year and kept them in a bag next to their desks in their room. Then at the start of school they went through the start-up list and found what they really needed. Then I would say Walmart, IDEA Store, etc. Even Walgreens sometimes has insane pencil sales. “