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10 Ways to Save Money This Back-to-School Season


As an educator, you know the challenges that come with having to spend at least $500 of your own money annually on school supplies for your classroom. Since you’ll likely be buying and replenishing supplies throughout the school year, saving money where you can before going back-to-school is critical, and Education World wants to share 10 ways you can be more financially savvy this time around. You can save money this back-to-school season by:


1. Checking Out This Online Consignment Store for Teachers

There’s a reason this site launched on Teacher Appreciation Day; Pass the Apple is a marketplace designed to help teachers save money on classroom supplies.

Here’s how it works:

"At Pass the Apple, our goal is to help alleviate a huge financial burden for teachers. The system is simple: Teachers who are retiring or who no longer need gently used classroom furniture or supplies can list their materials on Pass the Apple. Due to the fact that most of the materials are used, they are listed at anywhere from 50% to 80% off retail prices.”

An online consignment store for teachers, getting discounted supplies as well as peer reviews on materials has never been so easy. Not to mention supplies are sorted by grade, targeted learning area, price, subject and more so you can quickly find exactly what you were looking for. 


2. Seeing What Supplies You Can ‘DIY’

Using August downtime to see what supplies you can DIY is a super smart move.

Looking for cute but thrifty organizers to store your desk supplies? These cork vases and containers, for instance, are made using supplies you probably already mostly have and turn out looking both cool and chic. 

DIY possibilities are nearly endless thanks to the large body of resources available via sharing sites like Pinterest.


3. Knowing Your State's Sales Tax Holidays

17 states participate in sales tax holidays, typically before the school year begins to help both parents and educators save on back-to-school supplies. Unfortunately, not every state has a sales tax holiday and many are doing away with them after deciding revenue losses are too hefty to maintain. But if you’re in one of the 17 states that still does participate, why miss out? Do a little research to make sure you don’t miss the blink-and-you-miss it savings and plan your shopping accordingly.


4. Taking Advantage of Year-Round Discounts Available to Teachers

There are a good number of companies out there that provide discounts to educators year-round. Don’t forget about these places this back-to-school season because you got distracted by the bright and shiny offers from places advertising their season-specific deals. If you’re in need of new classroom attire, for example, clothing stores like J. Crew and Ann Taylor Loft provide educators with discounts on in-store purchases all year round. For supplies, popular craft store A.C. Moore offers a 15% education discount to teachers on both sale and regular priced items. 


5. Familiarizing Yourself with Free Apps Designed to Help You Organize and Plan

Educational apps are all the rage right now, which is both a good and a bad thing. Good because there are a ton of free ways to supplement learning in the classroom, bad because it takes a lot of time to decide what’s useful and what’s not.

If you’re smart about looking through the latest EdTech trends, however, you could save yourself a lot of time and money spent looking through sites like TeachersPayTeachers. For example, TES Teach with Blendspace is a mobile app that's free for download and provides teachers with quick access to 2,300,000+ lessons and 1,600,000 resources, a virtual discussion option and a lesson editor. These lessons and resources are totally free and available on your phone, a much better and certainly cheaper alternative to TpT in our opinion.


6. Knowing When to Splurge

The reality of the back-to-school supply shopping game is that sometimes you’re just going to have to splurge. For things that you’re going to need to last you all year-round, it’s best if you shop for durability even if it means spending the extra dollar. This applies to binders and notebooks, data storage and protection devices, and any other technology you need to invest in this year to get your work done. This “Where to Splurge” list from Staples is a handy resource for this topic. 


7. Knowing When to Save

Just like it’s important to know when to splurge, it’s also important know where to pinch your pennies. This is especially applicable when looking at items that are patented as the “next-best-thing” for teachers, a phenomenon that happens every back-to-school season. Do your research before buying something super trendy, and certainly don’t go overboard on financing something that has little testing in the classroom to support its usefulness.


8. Taking a Look at New Supply Deals and Savings

Okay, now it’s time to weed through all of the deals and savings that are marketed just for you. Find out what kinds of sales big retailers like Target, Staples, Office Depot, and Walmart have going on this year, making a point to check them all out before just shopping at one. This site is a great resource for doing that:


9. Buying Supplies Wholesale

As you know, the need for school supplies persists year-round, not just during the start of the year. For this reason, buying the things you need most throughout the year might be a good thing to do in bulk. It’s a costlier method upfront, but will save you a lot by the end of the year if you’re smart. A site like is a favorite of educators for this purpose, but there are tons of places that offer bulk school supplies as well. 


10. Not Forgetting to Check Your Closet Before Shopping

It’s a simple tip, but you’d be surprised how helpful it actually is. Before you even set out to purchase a single supply, check to see what you already have first. There might be a couple things from last year that are still usable that you tossed aside during your summer-vacation-excitement. But if you have it, why buy it again, right?

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