As a military spouse and mom of five kids, I’m always on the lookout for good deals, especially when it’s back-to-school time. Every summer, there are long lists of school supplies, books, clothes and shoes that every child needs. The cost can feel overwhelming, so it’s important to plan ahead and budget for the extra expenses.
Luckily, there are numerous ways military families can save money on school supplies. I was once moved to tears when my children all received a free outfit, a jacket and a shoe coupon from a giveaway program. That generous act from local volunteers meant so much to me when my husband was deployed.
Use this combination of nonprofit resources and shopping tips to get the best deals for your military students.
7 ways to save on military kids’ school supplies
1. Get a supply list
Every state handles school supplies differently. At some public schools, buying supplies is optional. Some teachers provide folders or notebooks to keep everything consistent. Check with your child’s school to get specific instructions before you drop unnecessary cash.
2. Go to school supply giveaways
Local nonprofits, churches and government organizations offer free school supplies to students throughout summer. Look on base for USO giveaways or register for a Back-to-School Brigade event with Operation Homefront.
3. Shop in person
Sure, online shopping is convenient, and we all love next-day delivery. But you’ll find lower prices and better deals if you shop in stores in your community. Look for coupons and check sale dates to make sure you get the best rates.
4. Buy on tax-free days
Some states offer annual sales-tax holidays on specific summer weekends to make back-to-school shopping more affordable. Buy large items like backpacks, clothing and shoes on these dates.
5. Get free clothes or shoes
The Assistance League, a nonprofit with chapters across the country, gives out clothes and shoe vouchers to military children. If there isn’t a location near you, visit the Thrift Shop on base or a consignment store to save money on school clothes.
6. Free school lunch
Depending on location and the service member’s rank, many military children qualify for a free school lunch program. Most schools offer free breakfasts, too. Apply through your school’s website.
7. Buy in bulk
If your kids need tissues, paper towels and hand sanitizer for their classrooms, consider teaming up with another parent and splitting the cost. Find someone who has a membership to a discount club like Costco or Sam’s Club to get the best deals on these expensive items.
4 back-to-school savings on adult school supplies
Kids aren’t the only ones going back to school. Whether you are a service member working toward a degree or a military spouse working on a certification or continuing education, take advantage of these discounts on school supplies.
1. Free laptop
Students can apply for a free laptop through government organizations. Veterans, check out Laptops 4 Learning, founded by a veteran, to get a free refurbished computer.
2. Save on textbooks
College bookstores charge incredible rates on books. Save money by using digital copies, used books or a textbook rental program.
3. Book allowance
Students who apply for FAFSA grants or veterans and military dependents using G.I. Bill benefits will receive an annual allowance for textbooks and supplies. Check with your school for details.
4. Tax deductions
You’ll see the savings when you file next year’s taxes using the American opportunity tax credit. Undergraduate students can claim up to $2,500 in tuition, book fees and supplies to lower their overall tax burden.
Don’t let the cost of school supplies alarm you – use these budget tips for the best back to school savings.Read comments