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Back-to-school time is upon us again and teachers are sending home their supply lists for the new school year. Whether or not the kids are going back full-time and in-person, part-time in-person, or completely virtually, they’ll need some new stuff to start them off on the right foot. So, let’s run through some tips on how you can outfit your little students with whatever they need even if there’s nothing in the budget.

First, Shop Your House

See how much you can check off the supply list by shopping around your home. Perfectly good stationery and office supplies can get lost in the shuffle—especially when you have kids around. In fact, you can have the kids help you out by making your search into a game. Send them off to gather every pencil they can find and the one who finds the most wins! Then do it again with folders, notebooks, rulers, crayons, etc. Set aside the best of what they find as long as it meets the needs of the supply list. You can even get the neighbors involved and make trades to help everyone get what they need.

Shop Grocery and Drug Store Clearance Aisles

Since these types of stores sell a little bit of everything, their clearance sections are great places to find crazy low prices on items that are overstocked, out-of-season, or in damaged packaging. Just do a quick drive-by with your shopping cart when you’re already there shopping for your regular household needs and see what you can find.

Look for Giveaways

We know it can be hard to ask, but if your budget is busted before the supply list is filled, you can gather some donated items through a variety of places in your community. Schools and administrators can point you toward churches and community organizations that offer school supplies and love to help. You can do your own search on social media. And you can call 2-1-1 from any phone and ask the community help line for leads on free back-to-school supplies.


Tax-Free Shopping Days

If you just can’t avoid spending for back-to-school—especially on a bigger ticket item—many states offer Sales Tax Holidays that are designed to help families save on back-to-school purchases specifically. Plus, many stores offer discounts that coincide with the tax-free days so you can save even more! Visit the Federation of Tax Administrators website for a list of 2021 State Sales Tax Holidays or do a web search on “[your state] + 2021 Tax Holiday” to find out when you can save and what items will be eligible.

Make Smaller Payments Over Time

Another option for the kids’ tech needs is renting to own so you can pay smaller amounts over a period of 12, 18, or 24 months instead of all up front. You can check out Aaron’s if you need a desktop computer, laptop, Chromebook, tablet, or a desk to put one on and you don’t need credit to apply!*

Ultimately, teachers understand that budgets are tight for many of their students’ families. Talk to your teacher(s) and ask if any items on the supply list can be skipped or purchased at a later date. It can be easier to acquire all those supplies if they’re not needed all at once.




*No Credit Needed does not mean or imply that no inquiry will be made of credit history or creditworthiness. It means that this is not a credit transaction. Aaron’s may check credit history and creditworthiness, but no established credit history is necessary. Approval is not guaranteed.