FFTC’s Guide to Buying School Supplies


Finding school supplies each year can be expensive and frustrating. Every school, sometimes every teacher, has their own list and just when you think you have it down, they might change.

FFTC's Guide to Buy School Supplies

The year that I finally got ahead on buying white uniform shirts, we received an email in August informing us that the school had decided to change to red shirts. Great! White is a ridiculous color for grade school children. Now I had a bunch of useless white shirts, which I attempted to dye them all red. Disaster. THE NEXT DAY, the school sent another email that, due to parental complaints, they would allow BOTH red and white shirts for the upcoming school year. ERG!

Anyway, we share your pain and offer a few strategies for getting it done fast and/or cheap and/or environmentally friendly. We hope it can be a fun bonding experience, too.

This article contains Amazon affiliate links and Family Fun Twin Cities receives commissions on sales through our site.

To start, if you haven’t received a list from your school, you could try the School Supply List website. I checked it against schools we’ve attended and it seemed correct. I’m not sure how they are able to keep up with every school’s lists, but it is a good starting point if you haven’t received a list directly from school yet.

Strategy 1: Shop for Schools Supplies on the Cheap

Keep an eye on Twin Cities Frugal Mom and other local money-saving websites to find the best deals around town. These deals haven’t seemed as great in the past several years as they used to be, but August is still the best time for new school supply deals and for stocking up on extra supplies for home.

School Supplies

Strategy 2: Shop Thrift Stores to Avoid Adding More School Supplies to the Waste Pool

One of the most frustrating things about school supplies is how many of them come home unused at the end of the school year. The only ways I know to get around this are to 1) refuse to buy everything on the list and hope you know better than the school; 2) hold onto end-of-year leftovers to start next year’s supplies and/or 3) shop secondhand.

Interestingly, some thrift stores seem to jack up their prices right before school starts and the August sales on new items are often cheaper than used at this time. If you are concerned about the environmental impact of buying new school supplies, I recommend you shop year round to avoid the back-to-school prices at thrift stores. Also, from experience, I don’t buy things that can dry out (glue, markers, paint) at thrift stores unless the price is phenomenal and I’m feeling lucky.

Strategy 3: Do One Online School Supplies Order Delivered to Your Door

This is where I remind you that we are Amazon affiliate partners and if you buy through these links, Family Fun Twin Cities gets a small commission on sales. Find school materials and supplies at this link. Shopping online has its ups and downs, too. On the plus side, you can shop on your laptop while watching TV with the family in your PJs. Plus you don’t have to go from store to store to find everything you need. If it is on your list, you can probably find it online.

On the downside, you really have to watch that you are working with a reputable dealer online especially when you go off brand. I’m learning (slowly) to read the reviews before buying. The other minus is that the packaging can be ridiculous when items trickle in instead of arriving together. Amazon does offer to pick up your boxes filled with donations and deliver them to a charity for you. If the packaging bothers you, you can take advantage of that service.

A fun part off shopping online is that it is easy to shop in themes:

Your kid loves cats. Get Cat Themed Supplies!

Cat Themed School Supplies

How about School Materials for the Unicorn Lover?

Unicorn School Supplies

Or Provisions for Young Paleontologists.

Dinosaur School Supplies

You can even find Robot Necessities;

Robot School Supplies

Or go for something licensed like Star Wars

Themed School Supplies

However you shop for your school supplies, we wish you luck and fun getting ready for another great school year!

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