Teachers spend a lot of their own money on school supplies. One survey found that 94% of teachers spend their own money on school supplies and spend $479 on average. In an ideal world, this would be unnecessary. Teachers would have unlimited funding and resources to educate the next generation of leaders. Yet, we live in an imperfect world. So, until we begin properly funding education, here are seven ways teachers can save on classroom supplies.
#1 Apply to grants.
Grants, like scholarships, are often referred to as “gift aid” because they offer financial assistance and do not need to be repaid. Many organizations and companies give grants to teachers. Some give away large awards for teachers to pursue professional development. Others give away awards for teachers to cover school supplies for the year. When it comes to educating kids, every little bit counts.
Crowdsourcing has grown in popularity as a way to fund underfunded projects. In fact, some sites focus on funding teachers and classrooms in particular. Through these crowdfunding websites, teachers can raise funds for class trips, supplies, and more. Some sites will even allow teachers to request specific items.
Crowdfunding works particularly well for those who have a large, supportive community. Even teachers in smaller communities can benefit from crowdfunding, though. These platforms can help teachers to connect with larger networks of people they wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. Visit the websites below to find the right crowdfunding platform for you.
#3 Stock up during sales.
Just as consumers would stock up on Christmas decorations and supplies on December 26th, teachers can also take advantage of seasonal sales. Many office supply stores begin discounting school supplies in July. Then, the sales continue until September. Similarly, many supplies go on sale during Black Friday, or online the following Monday (also known as Cyber Monday). Stay up-to-date on deals by looking through your local coupon books or by following savings blogs such as Passion for Savings.
Don’t forget to watch out for price matching opportunities, as well. Many stores will price match an item if you find the same item for a lower price somewhere else. Price matching works wonders when you don’t have time to go to the store with the more affordable option.
#4 Browse listing sites.
To find places to buy or sell supplies, or to even find some free gems, Craigslist is the go-to. However, there are many other sites out there that can assist you in your mission to find good items for your classroom.
Not only does Facebook now have a Marketplace feature, Facebook groups are a great way to find much-needed items at a bargain. Join groups for teachers in your area, or find groups focused on free and bargain items.
To give new life to unwanted items, Freecycle is the way to go. You need a free account to use the site, but every item listed is free.
Many people consider Oodle the closest alternative to Craigslist. In addition to buying and selling items, you can also view community listings, browse apartments, and more.
There are many sites to browse individual items, but don’t forget to look for garage sales, as well. Many sites like Garage Sale Finder will help you find sales in your neighborhood. Similarly, see if you can check out your local college dorms at the end of the school year. Many students get rid of items they longer want or need, particularly from their dorm room. It’s a good way to find that next piece of furniture for your classroom.
#5 Buy in bulk.
Some items last forever, and you will want a lot of them. If you have the storage space, save on classroom supplies by buying items like paper, pencils, paper clips, and chalk in bulk. Make sure to check the price-per-unit when buying to ensure you’re getting the best deal. You can also pair bulk purchases with store or manufacturer coupons for extra savings.
If you need perishable items, or you don’t have anywhere to store bulk items, team up with other teachers and split the cost. Everyone involved will get the supplies they need at a discounted price.
#6 Take advantage of cash back programs.
Sometimes saving money is a long-term project. Taking advantage of cash back programs will pay off with a bit of diligence. This strategy often comes in three different forms:
- Discounted gift cards
- Rebate programs
There are many ways to begin couponing, from finding deals in your local paper to reading popular couponing blogs. When you get started couponing, remember to pay attention to expiration dates and the terms and conditions. Watch out for whether you can pair a coupon with other coupons or if a coupon requires you to buy more than one item.
Discounted gift cards need a similar effort and diligence. Sites like Cardpool will help you find discounted gift cards while ensuring their quality.
Rebate programs are great to use after you’ve already purchased something. Applications like Ibotta or Ebates will help you find rewards for items you’ve already bought. Similarly, you might consider getting a credit card to use solely for business and earning rewards off of it. Then, you can write off the purchases you make on your taxes (with the help of a certified accountant).
#7 Start a blog.
Many teachers have started blogs to discuss elements of teaching, share classroom resources, and to build a community of teachers. It’s also a great way to save on classroom supplies. It requires some perseverance, but it gives many rewards in the long run.
First, many brands will give free or discounted products to bloggers in exchange for an honest review. The tradeoff allows you to try new items for free while helping other teachers discover great products.
Blogging is also a great way to learn about new opportunities through your readers and fellow bloggers. By putting out a call for good discounts, loyal readers will flock to share information.
Finally, your blog will make a great platform for recommending items and earning a bit of payoff through affiliate marketing. You can also request items by posting wishlists on your blog.
It’s never too late for teachers to save on classroom supplies. With a little bit of extra thought and care, you’ll soon see hundreds in savings during the school year. And don’t forget: the best money is free money, and we’d love to give you some. Apply for the Educational Word Search Teacher Grant today for the chance to cover your out-of-pocket costs for the year.
Kristen Seikaly used her artistic background, research skills, and love for the internet to launch her first blog, Operaversity. Now she uses the skills to connect teachers, parents, and game enthusiasts with Crossword Hobbyist and My Word Search. She studied music at the University of Michigan, and now lives in Philadelphia.