5 Expensive School Supplies & How To Save on Them During Inflation

Back view of beautiful young woman with backpack walking in park.
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In 2021, the National Retail Federation reported families spent more than $840 on school supplies With record inflation, this number could inch toward $1,000 this year.

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Some of the most expensive items on your child’s list might have you worried about how you’re going to afford school essentials, especially if you have multiple kids in school. Luckily, there are hacks so you’re not spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on items you’ll just have to buy again next year.

Laptops and Tablets

Laptops and tablets are as essential as they are expensive. However, many brands offer student discounts that you can take advantage of.

Apple offers college students $300 off the newest MacBook Air, plus you can get a $150 Apple gift card. You can also save about $200 on the newest iPad that also comes with the $150 gift card. Best Buy offers all students deals for up to $300 off new Samsung and others Windows laptops, as well as tablets. Dell is also offering students up to $200 off laptops, and Microsoft is offering 10% off all items for students. If you can hold out, Black Friday always has great tech deals, so you can load up then as well.

Make Your Money Work for You

For even better deals on tech, you can look for refurbished items. These items are used, but have been restored to like-new condition. Some great sites to look for deals on refurbished laptops, tablets and other electronics include Amazon, Staples and Overstock. You can often get hundreds of dollars off the original price, and might even be able to find refurbished items for less than half the original price. 

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Backpacks

The easiest way to save on a backpack is to reuse from previous years. However, this might be your child’s first year in school, or that shiny and new backpack from three years ago might be worn down. One piece of advice is to buy a new backpack in the off season. So, if a ratty backpack can make it through September, you’ll score great deals waiting to replace it until October or November. You can also check eBay or Poshmark for “new with tags” bags for a brand-new backpack for a fraction of its original price. 

Make Your Money Work for You

If your child wants specific characters on their backpack, consider adding those yourself with help from a craft store and iron-on decals. A kid’s bag with licensed characters is always going to be much more expensive than one without. 

Calculators 

If your child just needs a basic calculator, dollar stores sell these for under $5. However, your kid might be entering the world of advanced math classes, where they will need a more sophisticated graphing calculator. You can rent these from sites like Graphtor, where it might cost you only $30 a semester rather than the $140 price tag some of these graphing calculators can cost when you purchase them new. You can also look at Amazon for a used calculator, which can cost 50% less than buying one new. 

Flash Drives

Flash drives are extremely necessary to back up work, or have it on the go. Depending on the size of the flash drive, they can get pretty pricey. Best Buy always has drives on sale and offers them in packs, so you can get more bang for your buck. The retailer offers perfectly small and portable flash drives with up to 1,000 GB of storage. 

Make Your Money Work for You

Paper and Pens

The bulk of a school supplies list tends to be pens, pencils, notebooks and the like. Dollar stores usually offer great deals on these, so definitely stop by those before you go to any big-box stores.

There’s also the option to buy in bulk at a place like Costco. Though you might pay a little more upfront, you’ll be set for years. Knowing how these items show up on every year’s list, you might as well make the investment. Another option is to buy packs. For example, Amazon offers a pack of markers, pencils, glue, colored pencils, a ruler and erasers for $30. This is likely a lot cheaper than if you searched for all of these items individually, and it’s more convenient, too. 

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About the Author

Sam DiSalvo is an LA-based comedian, writer and actor who's performed all over the country. Her written work has appeared in numerous digital publications. As a copywriter, she's worked with a variety of major brands including GoldieBlox and Thrive Causemetics. Sam loves dogs and is currently perusing leisure suits to buy for her corgi mix, Barry

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