How to save money on school supplies during coronavirus pandemic

Posted at 1:32 PM, Jul 29, 2020

Parents might be anxious and apprehensive for back to school, but so many kids are ready.

“The next month might be the longest month we’ve had waiting for school to come back,” said Carrie Rea, laughing.

Rea is a mother of four in Akron — two kids at St. Vincent-St. Mary, two at St. Sebastian.

They are in ninth grade, sixth grade, fourth grade, and first grade. Her hands are full — but her thinking is straightforward as back-to-school begins.

“Make sure we’re flexible so that our kids are flexible because we are going to be the dictators of how our kids feel,” Rea said. “Even if we feel a certain way, that we just roll with the punches and don’t let our kids sense our own frustration because they need to learn.”

One thing that might frustrate parents is school supply shopping — so different this year than ever before.

"The number one thing you’re going to need this year are masks, right?” said Rachel Krych, who runs the blog “Couponing with Rachel.”

She said every store has masks readily available now, at all price points.

From bulk buys on Amazon to mix and match at Old Navy.

“Also your neighbor down the street probably makes homemade masks so I think masks in general, you’ll be able to find a lot of,” Krych said.

She also says to look for what are called “loss leaders” to save some cash on common things on the supply list.

“Loss leaders are a drastically reduced item that you can buy every week at every store and they’re usually about 5 to 10 of these,” Krych said. “For instance, like 25 cent crayons or a five-pack of glue sticks.”

If you have your list and shop those loss leaders specifically over the next three or four weeks, you’ll be able to stock up at better prices.

As for where to buy — Krych said the big names have the best deals — Target, Walmart, Meijer’s, Marc’s, Staples, even Aldis.

You might also need to add a sturdy backpack to the list since Krych said she’s seen some schools implementing “no-locker” rules.

For Carrie and her kids, back to school also means practicing things that aren’t on the syllabus.

Constant hand washing at home so they’re ready in class, trying on different masks to make sure they fit and are comfortable, and even rethinking what we’ve always been taught — sharing is caring.

“We had to parent in a totally different way and say ‘You’re not being mean - but for the time being, you have to keep whatever you have It’s yours and you have to keep it to yourself.’” Rea explained. “Still be polite and mannerly to everyone around you, but understand you can’t share.”

And when it comes to things like disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer, several districts in Northeast Ohio tell News 5 they hope parents can contribute but understand if they can’t. Districts have already put in mass orders for them if they plan to return to classroom learning.

WEWS' Homa Bash first reported this story.