Every year we receive a school supply list a mile long, and now we have these lovely, lengthy lists for three of our four children. We thank our lucky stars that the fourth still has a supply fee (hurray!). Year after year, I’ve struggled with what the most cost effective and time efficient way to purchase school supplies was, and I think I’ve finally got it down to a science using membership services. You don’t need a membership service to leverage the ideas here, but they sure are helpful to this working mama.
Step 1: See What You Have At Home
There are items you likely have from the previous school year or already have at home (zippered pencil case with mesh pocket, scissors or ruler, paper towels). I mark those with an H for Home. Several years ago I noticed a trend of Expo Markers, Plastic two-pocket folders, blue pens and highlighters so I ordered those in bulk. I still have plenty so I pull from my stock of those annually.
Step 2: Comparison Shop
I log into Amazon, Shipt (Target) & Brandless simultaneously and add one of each item to both apps. This took me approximately 30 minutes for all three lists. Then I flip between screens and delete the item from the vendors that are the highest cost and keep the item that is the lowest cost (for the quality). When I begin deleting items, I add a S for Shipt, A for Amazon and B for Brandless next to the item so I know where I ordered it from. Do this for whatever vendors you have memberships with and love. The kids can even choose supplies (or colors once I have them in their respective carts) and feel like they have a voice. If you prefer to shop in person, you now have a handy shopping list!
Step 3: Order & Receive
I order when I am ready (or have added enough to meet free shipping minimums). When the items are received, I use a highlighter to check the items in and have a quick view of what I have left to get. In Amazon, I can “save for later” items I’m not ready to purchase yet and get those on my own schedule, so this is an added bonus. The best part is that I never have to step foot in a store or fight back-to-school sales.
Step 4: Bag and Tag
When I have enough to start splitting the items up, I use NOMB swag tote bags (thanks Touro) and label them with each child’s name. As the item goes into the tote, I check it off the list and put it out of mind. Then when Orientation or 1st day comes around, they grab their tote and we don’t look back.
All in all, this process takes me about two hours, less than it would take me to go to a store, shop and get home. Most importantly, since I hate shopping with a passion, it helps save my sanity. To put a cherry on this sundae that is school shopping, our regular Shipt shopper (Roxanne) did her 500th shop buying our school supplies and we got to celebrate when she arrived to deliver.