Back to school – the most wonderful time of the year (just not for my wallet). It’s the time of the year when we’re thinking about lesson plans, our new students, and all the things we need to buy to set up our classrooms…all while sitting in meetings.
To help me spend my time laughing instead of crying as I mourn the end of summer, I look to @bored_teachers. Seriously, if you’re not doing so already, please go to Instagram and follow @bored_teachers or click here to follow their blog; they’re like my spirit animal. Case and point, this meme…
My initial response was “yass,” followed by the realization that I’m not alone when it comes to this dilemma. By the time August rolls around, I really start counting my coins – I’ll pass on an appetizer, opt for water instead of juice aka wine…those dollars can be used to buy supplies for my students.
Going back to school doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank, and it definitely shouldn’t mean skipping out on a meal or an experience (been there, done that). It’s only taken me eight years to come to terms with this fact, smh.
Here are a few tips I follow to avoid breaking the bank when going back to school:
1. Make a list, and check it twice!
It’s so easy to get caught up in the dollar section of stores (ahem, Target). Too many times I’ve gone in looking for pencils and I walk out with my cart filled to the brim. So step one, make a list and stick to it.
2. Don’t feel pressure to make your class the most pin-worthy room in the school.
I know, this is very hard. But trust me, your kids will learn just as easily in a class where you spend $50 on decorations as they will in a class where you spend $300. Plus, your bank account will thank you later. In recent years, I’ve decided to purchase the bare minimum (pencils, cutouts, jumbo letters after hastily ripping them off the word wall or bulletin board at the end of the previous year, border when it was too tattered) to complement what I already have, which brings me to the third tip…
Maybe it’s the California in me that makes me such a huge proponent of recycling, or maybe it’s the fact that I’m frugal…the jury’s still out on that one. Anyway, recycle your decorations, borders, themes…at one point I considered recycling name tags with the use of duct tape (to date, I’ve only done that once –when I got a new student in the middle of the year). I like to change my theme every other year, though I admit my scholars have been the Kindergarten Bees for two years running…they say the third time’s a charm. Anyway, recycling saves money and it’s good for the environment.
4. Use durable material.
I can’t take credit for this one. Years ago, one of my friends suggested I use cotton sheets as the background for my bulletin boards. He suggested this because when it comes to putting up butcher paper, my struggle is far too real; seriously, I have a hate-hate relationship with the stuff. I’ve continued to use sheets for my boards because I can use them year after year and they pretty much fit with any theme, especially when I buy with a color-scheme in mind.
5. Finally, like everything else, we know there’s an app for that.
I recently downloaded Flipp. In a nutshell, it’s an app that allows you to put in your location and it locates coupons near you. I found a coupon for, wait for it…dry erase markers. So, I will be purchasing dry erase markers AND eating, too. Sounds like a win-win to me.
What about you? Any tips to help you save money when going back to school? Please leave any and all tips in the comment section.
Happy (What’s Left of) Summer,
Marissa’s Teachable Moments
5 thoughts on “Back to School Without Breaking the Bank”
My tip is to plan for the future. If you’ve been teaching awhile you know exactly which supplies run out come March(pencils), so stock up now! The prices on school supplies will only go up once we pass the “back to school” period. While you might spend a bit more now, you’ll save in the long run.
My second tip is to shop with another teacher when possible. Who else better to run ideas by to decide if you really need to buy so many art supplies. Not to mention we’re great at problem solving, so a teacher partner in crime is perfect to think of reasonable and affordable solutions before you purchase that premade phonics game. Finally a teacher buddy is great to split the savings with. Okay so you don’t need 100 sheets of extra large laminating sheets but a few would be good to have, so split the box and cost with another teacher or two.
Great tips! I especially like splitting supplies (and costs) with a teacher buddy! I’m definitely adding that to my list of money-saving strategies. Thanks!
Great advice! Veteran teachers who are retiring or colleagues eelocsrinf have been great resources. Summer garage sales are also awesome. The Dollar Store has amazing savings as well.
Thanks for the great tips!! How could I forget about teachers who are preparing to retire?! They love sharing!! Garage sales and flea markets are great, too; they’re like treasure hunts.