When you have the bright idea to start public school in the middle of the school year, you kind of miss out on all the back-to-school sales. So, we had to cut a few financial corners to afford school shopping. But we managed to get it done!
If you decide to put your children in school suddenly, you may be shocked at the amount of supplies they need. I know I was. The supply list for our kids’ school included all kinds of things that used to be available free of charge: reams of copier paper, for example. Plus, the school follows a uniform dress code. Naturally, as homeschoolers, we had no uniforms.
So if we were going to make our Great Homeschool Public School Experiment a success, we were going to have to learn how to go school shopping on a budget. Here are a few tips that helped us out a bunch!
Image: freepeoplea / Dollar Photo Club
School Shopping on a Budget
1. Raid your homeschool closet.
The first place we started “shopping” was in our homeschool closet. We had been homeschooling for six years, so we had tons of pencils, crayons, and markers. Before you buy a thing, look at the supplies you already have and then just purchase what you don’t have hiding away behind schoolbooks.
2. Use the Dollar Store to the fullest.
Our kids’ school supply list called for name-brand items: Lysol wipes, Expo dry-erase markers, etc. After pricing these items on Amazon and then panicking as I imagined the cost of multiplying these things by three, I talked with a few veteran public school moms. They quickly calmed me down by directing me to the local Dollar Store.
I found just about every single cleaning item there (generic branded, but still). So, if you’ve worried about name-brand items, they’ll take the store brand ones. Never fear. 😉 Another tip I got was to buy one of each item and then wait for the teachers to ask for the items they need throughout the year. That cut down our initial cost of supplies considerably.
3. Buy used uniforms, if you can.
If your school requires uniforms, you may be able to find used uniforms at second-hand or consignment stores. The school my kids attend does not require special patches or insignia, so all I needed were the right color and style clothing items for each child. I stopped at Goodwill first. And, fortunately, I found a few shirts and pants right away.
What I couldn’t find used, I bought from Old Navy. Kids’ uniforms are very, very cheap there. 😉
Have you had to cut corners to afford school supplies? How did you do it? Share your tips in the comments!
This post is part of the series “The Great Homeschool Public School Experiment“! Read about our other adventures in trying public school for the first time!
I also say this works when you are changing from one traditional school to another mid year. I’ve done this several times with my kids (since I have 4) and we’ve moved several times. I usually have them do a walkthru of the school. Ask the teacher to explain what they will use in class, how the class is run.