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How to Save on School Supplies

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With major expenses like tuition, housing, food and textbooks putting a crunch on your wallet, the last thing you need is to break the bank with the little things, too.

Follow these simple steps and you should be able to get your school supplies at big discounts:
  • Buy in Bulk: For most any supply you'll need, one simple rule applies: the more you buy, the cheaper it'll be. If you don't need a hundred pens, partner up with a friend...or two... or three... or as many as you can trust to pay their share!
  • Go Generic, Not Brand Name: Store, or generic, brands usually work just as well as a more well-known brand name, but they cost a heck of a lot less. Costco's brand, Office Impressions, offers huge discounts, but you can find inexpensive and reliable brands from Staples, Office Depot, OfficeMax or most any office supplies retailer. For paper, fasteners, folders, envelopes and similar products, you can safely assume the generic and brand names will be comparable. For pens, though, we recommend you do a "taste test" to ensure you like the generic brand before you buy a bunch of them. Still not convinced? Feel free to read more about why generic supplies are best.
  • Visit Multiple Stores for "Back to School" Savings: The trick to those big "back-to-school" sales is that stores only offer a few items at a really big discount. They're banking on the fact that those items will lure you in, but that you'll end up buying everything else you need at their regular store prices. Instead, work the system to your advantage: start shopping a few weeks before school starts and make multiple trips to multiple stores,  buying only the items that are on sale. Yes, it take a little legwork, but it could save you up to 80% off! To read more, visit our tip about back-to-school sales.
  • Hit the Garage Sales: Garage sales and second-hand stores won't give you deals on papers, pens and the like, but you may find some other great stuff like office furniture, containers, binders, desktop shelves, etc. And, you can virtually guarantee they'll be cheaper than anything you'll find in a store. Plus, if you've got a good eye, it can give your working area a little character. Since you'll be there for many (many, many!) hours over the next four years, you might as well make it 'homey'.  
Have you got any other tips for how to get your school supplies on the cheap? Let us know!
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