Are you looking for some insider tips from teachers to save money during back to school? This post will give you several ideas!

The research is in. Teachers spend wa-a-a-ay too much money during back to school season. I used to spend around $1,000 per school year of my own money. Around $600 was during back to school. How much do you spend?

A piggy bank with a graduation cap and piles of money around it. Best ways to save money during back to school.

According to an NEA study done in 2022, a full 90% of educators spend their own money on school supplies. Do you end up buying pencils, crayons, and that most valuable asset, dry erase markers? 

Heads up to any parents reading this…if you want to give a teacher the best gift ever, make it a big pack of Expo markers!

In the 2019 pre-pandemic back to school season, teachers spent an average of $500. 

According to the study, this is a key driver of teachers leaving the profession. I can believe it!

I’m certain you want your students to have everything they need to have a stellar year, I’m going to give you several ideas for how to obtain books at no or low cost, how to have a steady supply of dry erase markers and paper towels, and tissues.

Also, I’m going to give you some ideas to save money on all those extra resources you purchase throughout the year to complement your textbooks.

Are you ready? Here we go!

Money Saving Tip #1 – Books

When I first started teaching, I would go to all the Friends of the Library sales and fill a bag of books for $5. This is still a great way to find lots of books that are classics and favorites for your students to read independently.

But what if you want more of the newer books and the current favorites? Teachers all love that when students order from Scholastic Books, they’re rewarded with free books for the class. That’s great! 

The other way Scholastic helps teachers is with their Warehouse Sales. Did you know that if you volunteer to work at a Scholastic Warehouse Sale, they pay you with a voucher for books for your classroom or library? Yes!

That was my main source of getting new books for my students. You can volunteer a few hours in the winter and in the spring, and get plenty of new and popular books. The next time you see a notification of one of these sales, click on the volunteer button and you’ll be guided in how to sign up. 

Money Saving Tip #2 – Dry Erase Boards

Some schools provide these and some don’t. Dry erase boards can be spendy if you’re having to pay for them on your own. I’m looking at a catalog right now, and they run on average, $34.99 for ten boards. If you have a class of 32 students, you’ll need to buy four packs for a whopping $139.96.

Average price for a class set of dry erase boards is $139.96 plus tax and shipping.
Save money on dry erase boards with this tip.

Ouch!

Did you know that you can purchase a 32 foot rectangle of shower board at a home improvement store for around $15? Then, if you tell them you’re a teacher, they’ll usually cut that board into 32 one-foot squares for you. Now you have a class set of whiteboards. Yes, please!

Money Saving Tip #3 – Dry Erase Markers

This is a biggie because it’s an ongoing expense, all year long. I tried so many things to cut the cost. Here’s what worked best, and it’s a combination approach. 

  1. Buy enough brand name dry erase markers for yourself in all the colors you want. It will cost you, but it’s worth it. Nothing is worse than dry erase markers that fade out in a couple of weeks.
  2. Next, buy the students four colors of off-brand or store-brand markers. They usually come in blue, green, red, and black. The colors are helpful during group work. If you buy the store-brand, you’ll save lots of money on your class set. I suggest buying enough for double your class size. 
  3. Then, when you have Meet the Parents Night or Back to School Night, have a sign-up list on the back table. On the sign-up list, make a table that shows the 12 months. Ask for 24 dry-erase markers each month.

Parents will sign their names next to the month that works best for them. All you have to do is record who volunteered to donate markers in which month, and then you can send them a friendly reminder a couple of weeks before.

Money Saving Tip #4 – Paper Towels and Tissues

Use the same sign-up sheet as before, but add columns for four rolls of paper towels and four boxes of tissues. You could also add antibacterial wipes if you use those, too.

Truly, I don’t think parents realize how much teachers are spending on these daily essentials. They normally don’t dive in to help because they don’t know. This is just a nice way of asking them to participate.

Money Saving Tip #5 – Snacks

Use the same sign-up sheet and include snacks. You’ll get a few boxes of snacks, and it will really help cut down on your out-of-pocket costs.

Do you have other ideas for saving money in the classroom? I’d love it if you shared some in the comments!

Money Saving Tip #6 – Extra Resources and Lessons

This one is a huge one. Teachers love to spend money on cute activities, crafts, and lessons on different teaching sites, such as Teachers Pay Teachers. But it can add up quickly.

I just discovered this new way to save and get more resources than you can use, at 90% off. Yes, you read that correctly. 

They’re called super or mega Back-to-School Bundle sales. Teachers join together and combine resources by grade level, into one huge bundle. They sell the bundles at a 90% discount, just to help teachers out.

One really amazing sale is happening August 6-12. It’s called the Back-to-School Bundle Sale, and it’s sponsored by That One Cheerful Classroom.

Back to School Bundle sale for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade.
Click the image to go to the Back-to-School Bundle website.

It has three big bundles: 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade. Each bundle includes resources for:

There are over 100 resources in each bundle.

 

[insert pin]

 

All You Have to Do is Head to the Back-to-School Bundle Website

The regular prices of the resources in these bundles would be between $450 and $625. However, you can buy a bundle for only $49. 

Can you believe it? You’ll get over 100 resources for your grade level for only $49. Plus, you can download them all right away, or you can have until February 1, 2024 to download everything you want. 

This deal is the biggest money saver of all. You can literally get a year’s worth of curriculum and activities for $49. Click the pin to save your spot. You’ll be notified the moment the doors open!

Once you buy a bundle, you’ll also get the opportunity to grab a valuable freebie from each of the teacher-authors participating. Right now, there are around 40 teacher-authors working together on this sale.

Once again, head to the Back-to-School Bundle Website to take advantage of these phenomenal offers. They’ll never be available in this combination again.

If you could save $400 to $500 over the course of the school year, what would you do with all that extra money? A weekend vacation? Some extra clothes? Let me know in the comments!

If you’re interested in reading the NEA report, you can access it here.

 

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