How to save on school supplies by taking advantage of the Midland community

It’s that time again: back to school, spending so much money on supplies again.

Tony Stamas, President/CEO of the Midland Business Alliance, encourages parents and families of school-age children to shop locally by visiting the online business directory before children reach books and families shop at stores.

“You might be surprised that you can find everything you need right here in Midland,” he said. “As an added bonus, all the money you spend on local businesses stays right here in our community.”

This year, families will have to shell out even more than usual due to inflation. Fortunately, there is still time to save money on supplies and other equipment by leaning on parents, neighbors, and local community members. That is how:

NerdWallet – Buy in bulk, split the cost

Do you know who else is buying the same supplies you need? The parents of your child’s classmates. So, join forces.

Buy certain supplies in bulk if the cost per unit is less than that of a smaller package. Then divide those supplies among other caregivers, so each person pays less than if they had gone alone.

Buying in bulk is a smart strategy for more general items typically found on classroom lists. These could include facial tissues, disinfectant wipes, plastic storage bags, paper towels and disinfectants, says Charles Field, CEO of TeacherLists, a digital platform that allows teachers to upload lists of supplies, which can be accessed by retailers. and the parents.

Let’s say your child is supposed to bring hand sanitizer. A 12-ounce bottle might cost $16. But buy a pack of four for $36, and four people could each spend $9 a bottle.

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Also try this method for harder-to-find and more expensive items, says Maggie Klokkenga, a Morton, Illinois-based certified financial planner and owner of Make a Money Mindshift, through which she advises clients on their cash flow.

Let’s just say that fine tip dry erase markers are hard to find. Instead of multiple parents searching empty shelves and paying a premium, collaborate.

Klokkenga, a mother of three school-age children, has tips for coordinating and saving on supplies. “It requires a little organization behind the scenes,” she says.

First, keep the number of people involved below 10, he suggests, “before it gets a little hairy.” Calculate the interest before continuing. Next, compare the prices of the items you want to split. Amazon is a safe bet for everyday essentials, she says, but office supply stores may hold promise for large orders of classroom-specific items.

Finally, tell the parents how much the cost will be per person and request that payment. Buy the products only after everyone has paid. After purchasing the items, arrange a pick up.

Reach out to community organizations

Don’t you want to coordinate that kind of effort? Klokkenga suggests tapping into existing groups.

Call your public library, local community center, or place of worship to ask if they’re hosting a back-to-school supply drive. If not, consider making the case for one.

For example, if there are several school children who attend your place of worship, ask the leaders to organize a fundraiser for school supplies.

“See if they can help being a partner, so to speak, both in management and in getting some money,” says Klokkenga.

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Be sure to mention how inflation has increased these costs for many of the group’s participants, she adds.

Browse second-hand equipment from local markets.

Using second-hand clothing and supplies is eco-friendly and usually cheaper than buying new. The thrift route is better for reusable items like clothes, backpacks and lunch boxes, says Kari Lorz, a Salem, Oregon-based certified financial literacy instructor and founder of Money for the Mamas, a website dedicated to helping moms. to learn about money.

However, Field, the CEO of TeacherLists, points out that buying used items is riskier for supplies that can wear out without your knowledge, like ink pens.

As for where to find used stuff, Lorz recommends the Buy Nothing Project. According to his website, this movement includes thousands of local communities hosted on Facebook and the BuyNothing app. In these groups, members request and give away free stuff.

Lorz hangs out with his local Buy Nothing group. She says that she would be fine if a new member who hasn’t given anything previously makes requests. “There’s no one keeping score,” she says.

You can also find free or discounted items in other local online spaces like Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor, and Craigslist.

For in-person purchases, look for yard sales, yard sales, and thrift stores.