This year, back-to-school preparations look very different than in years past. Whether you’ve chosen in-person learning, virtual learning or homeschooling as the best option for your family, there may be new expenses you need to prepare for. However, there are still plenty of ways to save money while providing your student what he or she needs to be successful.
School Supplies – When, Where And How To Shop While Saving
Review the school supplies checklist provided by your child’s teacher and do a quick check around the house to see what supplies you already have.
Check websites, mailers and social media for the best deals, coupons and coupon codes if you’re shopping online. (Rebate sites like Rakuten.com offer cashback when shopping on certain websites)
Shop back-to-school sales. Most large retailers offer price-matching, so you can still get most of your shopping done in one place if you do a little research beforehand.
Technology – Invest In Virtual Learning Without Breaking the Bank
Check with your school district to see if laptops or other devices are available on loan.
If you’re ready to buy, do your research. Major retailers like Best Buy offer discounts for students and credit so you can pay it off over time. Apple’s back-to-school sale also grants “Education Pricing” to students, teachers and parents of students.
Look into purchasing a refurbished device - You could save hundreds! Amazon Warehouse is a great place to start looking.
If you can hold out until Black Friday or Amazon Prime Day, you can also snag some great deals.
Free Wi-Fi is available at several parks, community centers and libraries in San Antonio. Outdoor Wi-Fi hot spots can also be accessed at several locations including:
o South Side Lions in the parking lot and nearby playground
o The Salado Creek Outdoor Classroom at Phil Hardberger Park East
o The San Antonio Public Library offers free WiFi outside 28 of its library locations and computer use by reservation at certain branches. Visit sanantonio.gov and mysapl.org for a complete list and COVID-19 restrictions.
Tutoring, Mentoring & Childcare – How To Find Affordable Help
Look to your child’s school to see what services are available. School districts are preparing to meet family needs outside the classroom as we adjust to a “new normal.”
Free, professional online tutoring is offered by several sources including the San Antonio Public Library at mysapl.org/homeworkhelp. HippoCampus.org offers thousands of free online tutoring videos and SmartTutor.com offers free math and reading lessons.
Big Brothers Big Sisters and Communities In Schools offer one-on-one, developmental mentoring programs for San Antonio students.
If you’re in need of childcare, check to see if you qualify for the Child Care Services Program, a city-run program that provides child care subsidies (sanantonio.gov). Your local YMCA may also have affordable childcare services available.
Create an Effective At-Home Learning Space on A Budget
It’s important to make your child’s education space inviting. To get started, think about your child. What colors do they like? Is there a certain animal or superhero they adore? Adorn your chosen space with interactive materials like world maps or the alphabet. To find low-cost decorations, try, TeachStarter.com. They offer free printables to help decorate your at-home “classroom.”
Also, choose a space in your home that’s well-lit (natural light is best), comfortable (add a bean bag chair for reading time) and near a power outlet. It’s also important to make sure the space is decluttered to avoid distractions and organized to reduce frustration. Great low-cost sources and ideas for desks, shelves and organizational tools include:
Facebook Buy Trade & Sell
Get creative and use repurposed household items such as:
o Boxes from deliveries can be stacked to create a sorting tower
o Velveeta Cheese boxes can serve as pencil and school supply holders (Use colored paper to decorate them.)
o Hot sauce jars can make nice pencil/pen holders
o Laundry detergent bottles can make book and folder organizers and all sorts of other cool items (Go to the Pinterest app on your phone and type in “laundry detergent container reuse” for ideas and videos on how to make things with them.)
Teacher Supplies – Back-To-School Discounts
Several retailers are offering back-to-school discounts for teachers including:
o Target (15% off through August 29)
o H-E-B (register for a 15% coupon at heb.com/teachers through August 27)
o Staples offers Classroom Rewards which earns teachers 5% back on purchases
o Amazon Prime provides membership discounts for qualifying educators
o Office Depot offers 20% back in rewards on Teacher Appreciation Days
Buying in bulk can help save money, especially from places like Costco or Sam’s Club.
For online shopping, Oriental Trading offers great prices on bulk items.
Locally, the Dollar Store offers very affordable options for everything from school supplies to decorations to spice up your home learning environment.
To get items for free, try sites like:
o ClassWish.org allows teachers to make a classroom wish list where people can see exactly what is needed and make a donation.
o Freecycle.org lists free items you can request for your classroom.
o Half Price Books accepts donation requests from educators who focus on literacy, the environment or education.
Where to Find Help and Free Resources
Drive-thru backpack giveaways and school supply drives are being organized across the city. First, check with your school district. Many are distributing supplies curbside.
Free clothing closets are affiliated with many school districts in San Antonio. Check with your school district to see what’s available and if you need to make an appointment. San Antonio Threads and Operation School Bell are two other great local resources.
Free lunch programs at schools have kept students fed for months despite school closures. These programs will continue throughout the new school year and provide three, nutritious meals for each school day. Check with your school district for a list of curbside pick-up locations. Meal delivery may also be available. One of our city’s greatest resources, the San Antonio Food Bank, can also be of assistance.