4 ways to save money on school supplies in Houston

By Porschia Harris, RISE! Program Manager

Ice cooler, grill and freeze pop displays have quickly switched to pallets of markers, packets of white lined paper, glue sticks and pencils in stores, and that can only be a sign of one thing:  Summer vacation is fading quickly and the school year is vastly approaching. It’s time to transition from worry and care-free existence to the hustle and bustle of school schedules and coordinated activities. 

As retailers seek to captivate with the latest trends and back to school must-haves of 2019, we want to help take some of the stress off your pockets while preparing for the back-to-school season. There are several ways to cut costs during back-to-school while still staying connected with the trends of the day.

Here are 4 tips to help beat the back-to-school financial crunch:

1. Find Free Stuff

There are several organizations in and around the Houston community that host back to school drives to help families who may not have the funds to purchase all the supplies needed for the upcoming school year. Some organizations ask that individuals preregister for events, while others operate on a first come, first serve basis. We’ve compiled a list of a few big back to school supply giveaways happening in the Houston area in the next few weeks:

Mabee Wholelife Service Center End of Summer Back to School Drive
Thursday, August 1, 2019 from 4 pm-6 pm
1905 Jacquelyn Drive, Houston, TX 77055
Registration not required. The event is free and open to the public.

Mayor’s Back 2 School Festival 2019
Saturday, August 3, 2019 from 9 am-5 pm
George R Brown Convention Center Halls A/B
1001 Avenida de Las Americas, Houston, TX 77010
The event is free, but registration is required. Registration online here:

The Alliance 11th Annual Back to School Drive Health and Business Expo
Saturday, August 10, 2019 from 9:30 am-2:00 pm
7500 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77036
Registration not required. The event is free and open to the public.

Morales Memorial Foundation 22nd Annual Back to School Giveaway and Health Fair
Saturday, August 17, 2019 from 8 am-10am
2901 Canal St. Houston, TX 77003
Felix H. Morales Funeral Home
The event is free, but registration is strongly encouraged. Register online here:

2. Buy discounted/on sale supplies

Retailers across the country are currently hosting sales on back-to-school supplies in the weeks leading up to the start of the school year. We also live in Texas, so that means Tax Free Weekend! 

During tax free weekend, you can purchase school supplies without paying sales tax. Pro tip: Make sure to check sales ads, search online and compare prices before purchasing supplies. Shop at retailers that offer price match for competitors or their own online prices.

Use sites like Amazon, Overstock and Houston on the Cheap to find affordable or less expensive purchase options like buying wholesale or in bulk or consider purchasing generic brand supplies. Stocking up on bulk items helps save you time down the road because you can check your bulk supply when your child suddenly remembers he / she needs a new supply right now! Click the link below to find out more information about qualifying tax free weekend items:

Texas Tax Free Weekend
August 9-11, 2019

3. Recycle supplies

Notebooks with two sheets of scribbles, pens and pencils stored in the junk drawer, and folders with last year’s math assignments can all be reused during the upcoming school year. Save time and money by searching the house for school supplies and put them back in rotation for the 2019-2020 school year. Pro-tip: Make this a yearly habit; at the end of every year, take a look at the supplies your child brings home and tuck away the ones that are still in good condition. School boxes, scissors, backpacks and pencil bags are often in good enough shape to be used for several years.

4. Set a budget and stick to it

Know your limitations before you start shopping and do not overextend your pockets. Only spend what you can afford and wait to purchase non-essential supplies until you have more wiggle room.

Follow this link to find a sample budget worksheet: https://thewomensresource.org/resources

Pro tip: Utilize the education portion to help set a goal for school supply purchases.

Remember: back-to-school shopping can creep up on you and your family quickly, so it pays to be prepared! The best way to save money is to start planning ahead of time so you can take advantage of every deal and coupon that comes your way.

Do you have any back-to-school shopping tricks you use to save money each year? Let us know your hacks in the comments and share this article with a fellow parent or guardian looking to save on school supplies!

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