wife of a teacher, so we have learned how to stretch our budget not only
at home, but when purchasing items for the classroom! It seems that
every year the budgets for schools get smaller and smaller, and I know
in some schools it is completely gone! This year our school “ran out” of
money for agendas and supplies even before the first day of school and
the teachers had to provide supplies out of pocket! Here are a few ways
that we have learned to stretch our budget and find great deals for
classroom and educational materials.
1. STOCK UP when it’s cheap! I’m sure most of you, if not all of you,
already do this! During the back to school sales (and the clearance
after the school sales!) every year our family goes nuts on stocking up
on school supplies. We come home with bags and bags of items from just
one store. Learn your stores policies. Most stores will expand their
limits with teacher ID’s. We were able to come home with 25 items for
$.01 each almost every week. After the school year began we found all
sorts of supplies for as little as $.05 each! Even during the year we have found unbelievable steals on printer paper, labels, and other supplies that are usually pretty pricey.
2. Teachers – Reach out to your community. A huge benefit our school has
received in the past year is simply by taking the time to visit local
businesses and request donations. Many of the businesses have said they
wished more schools did that! Don’t feel like you’re limited just by
restaurants either! We have help from grocery stores, chiropractor
offices (free massages for teachers!), and many other types of
businesses. In fact, we are a Title 1 school and cannot afford special
speakers, so we contacted local authors and even amusement parks and
zoos in the next county over who came over with animals for live
presentations free of charge. You never know until you ask! A little bit
of extra time that you spend can benefit your school a lot!
3. Watch deals online. Find a few educational bloggers that you love (or hang around here!) and watch their sites for great prices on classroom and educational materials! We have received for FREE fraction math games, kits from NASA, healthy living kits with pedometers, bookmarks, posters, pencils, educational toys and all sorts of other free classroom and educational materials. You can also find great deals (usually 50% off or better) by watching daily deal sites as well!
4. Ask your students and friends! If you have a project coming up that you need
supplies for ask your students and friends! They can bring in anything from empty
drink containers to scrap pieces of fabric! Make sure you ask in plenty
of time for them to actually remember to bring you their materials!
5. Scour thrift stores and yard sales! We have found all sorts of
fantastic items at thrift stores and yard sales for just a fraction of
the cost! Flea markets are great for finding books in bulk at a cheap
price as well! Sometimes if you tell them you’re a teacher they’ll
either give it to you free or offer a better price! I have found top notch educational toys and kits for steals simply because not everyone wants a “learning” toy.
6. Borrow, Borrow, Borrow!! Networking is a beautiful thing – even if
it is just between teachers in your school or family and friends that you know!! If you are looking for something that you don’t want to spend the money on ask everyone you know! Whether it’s teachers, friends on Facebook, businesses, or families with kids. You never know what you will find!
7. Watch your stores after the holidays! We have found ALL sorts of
goodies for prize boxes and special giveaways, as well as packs
of supplies to use during the year just because they were holiday-themed
or related. I have found especially after Valentine’s day stores mark
anything heart shaped down to sometimes pennies per pack. We have found
little soaps, mirrors, notepads, frisbees, stamps, bubbles, and more.
Even candies after Halloween are on clearance and they may not even be
Halloween themed so you can use them later in the year or for Christmas
goody bags! These make great incentives for kids!
8. Parents – swap educational toys with your friends! This has been a HUGE relief in the past for us. We all have toys that were great when we bought them but the kids get bored quickly and they end up in the back of a closet somewhere. Swap toys with someone else for a while and not only will your child have something new to play with for a while but you will have saved a lot of money doing so!
budget for educational materials if you get creative and use the
resources you already have! Recycle as much as you can, borrow what you
don’t have, and search for deals on what you need!