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How to Save Money on School Supplies this Summer Break

Janelle Cox

Teachers spend a lot of their own money on school supplies each year. In fact, according to a New York Times article, a survey released by the U.S. Department of Education found that 94% of public school teachers in the United States reported paying for their own school supplies. The average salary for a public school teacher for the 2017-18 school year was $60,477 according to the NEA. Do you know of any other profession that has to pay out of pocket in order to effectively do their job? If you’re one of the 94% of teachers who pay for their own supplies while making an “Average” salary, then you’re probably looking for a few ways to cut costs. Here are a few money-saving tips to help you purchase school supplies this summer break.

Buy School Supplies in Bulk During Summer Break

One of the easiest ways that you save money on school supplies this summer is by purchasing items in bulk. Wholesale Stores such as Sam’s Club, Costco, and BJ’s are all great options for buying classroom materials because you can buy items in bulk for a very low price. Plus, warehouse clubs’ prices are often lower that Amazon, Target, or Walmart. Ticonderoga pencils are usually a popular back-to-school brand of pencils and can be quite expensive. However, Costco sells them online for $10.49 for a 96 pack. At this price and with this amount of pencils, you’ll have enough for the next school year, too. When you purchase items in bulk, you’ll not only get them at a discount price, but you’ll have also have enough to store for later use.

Purchase School Supplies in August

Another tip on how to save money on your back-to-school supplies is to shop in advance. August is said to be the best month in summer to purchase school supplies because that is when most students in the Midwest and on the West Coast go back to school. You will find great deals on rulers, pencils, notebooks, folders and scissors at every store from the Dollar Store to office supply stores and even drugstores. Many states even offer a sales-tax holiday in the month of August to help customers save even more money on school supplies. However, according to Bankrate, each individual state has different rules, so it’s wise to pay close attention to the fine print of each individual state’s rules.

When it comes to buying school supplies early, if you see a great deal when you’re summer shopping, then don’t hesitate to buy it because you’re waiting for the deals in August, just buy it. You can never have enough classroom materials, and you can always save it for the following school year. Also, you’ll get the best discount a few weeks after school has already begun. So if you live on the East Coast and school doesn’t begin until September, you will start seeing price drops on school supplies as soon as the West Coast students start school in early August.

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Don’t Buy What You Can Get for Free

You can easily obtain free materials for your classroom, you just have to know where to find them. The first place to look during summer break is at a yard sale. If you go to a yard sale on the very last day when it’s about to shut down, most people will give you what’s left for free. You can find a lot of supplies for your classroom at a yard sale, items such as books for your classroom library, board games, and storage containers.

Another option is to find an organization that adopts a classroom. A wonderful website that offers teachers the opportunity to solicit financial support in order to purchase classroom items is called Adopt a Classroom. All you need to do is register your classroom online, write down the items that you need, and donors will contribute money so you can purchase the materials on your list. If you’re looking for classroom technology, you can register at Digital Wish. This organization’s mission is to get technology in every classroom, so that all children will be able to thrive in today’s digital era.

Plan a Supply Swap

Lastly, you can save money by planning a supply swap with your fellow teachers. Every teacher has a few extra classroom items that no longer serve them. For example, you may have a specific colored paper that you bought on sale a few years ago, and you know you’ll never use, but your colleague may be able to use. This is when you can plan for a supply swap so every teacher can utilize their materials.

Unfortunately, many public schools have limited funds or no funds at all, which forces teachers to purchase items out of their own pocket to ensure their students will get a quality education. As long as there are limited funds, teachers will continue to buy school supplies for as long as they need to.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master’s of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the elementary education expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.