When Cheap School Supplies Aren’t a Bargain
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Live on the cheap.
Shopping cheap is always a good thing, but there’s a difference between living cheap and buying things cheap.
Living cheap means living well on less money, not living on shoddy things that don’t work. when you buy school supplies and office supplies, it’s important to take a look at what a brand is worth buying and what you should get in the dollar bin.
Here’s a rundown of things that just aren’t worth the money unless they’re good quality.
If you plan to use markers more than once, it’s worth splurging for a brand you know and trust. The cheapest ones on the market just aren’t made as well as the more popular brands like Crayola or Roseart.
No-name dollar store or dollar bin markers dry out after one or two uses, and you’ll end up spending more than if you just bought better quality markers in the first place.
Think about it: you can invest $7 for a pack of really good markers that will last at least six months, or spend $1 every time you need a marker. If you use markers more than once a year, you should splurge. This also includes dry erase markers.
The only advantage branded pencils have over generic ones is a wider color range. If you just need the basics, go for the lowest cost. All pencils are easily broken, and it’s better to have more on hand than to have the most recognized brand.
Computer paper can be expensive if you go for the high end. If you need computer paper to show projects to clients, it’s best to choose a quality sheet, but watch for coupons and deals. Staples and Office Depot regularly sell high-quality paper.
If you just need paper for an occasional household project or to print personal materials, you should look for the lowest cost. Be careful when buying paper from places other than an office supply store.
You should get at least 200 sheets of paper in a stack. Less, at a cost of more than $3 per stack, and you risk getting ripped off. If you know you will be using a lot of paper, it would be wise to get yourself a slipcase. You can save a substantial amount on paper if you buy in bulk.
If you’re looking for ballpoint pens, you don’t need to get wrapped up in any particular brand, but you should watch out for quantity.
Remember, you can usually get a dozen in a box for less than $2, so don’t fall into the trap of buying them individually for $1 a pop.
Any smart dollar store manager knows that consumers like the idea of only paying a dollar for items.
A buyer may see a package of stickers “for just one dollar” and forget that the package only includes one sheet of 30 stickers. Meanwhile, you can go to Target and get a five-sheet sticker pack for $2.
The take-out sale
When shopping at bargain prices, it’s important to be a savvy shopper. Not all supplies need to be top of the line, but you need to be able to rely on them to work.
keep an eye on coupons and sales. Living on the Cheap readers know that if you’re patient, you can get a great deal on exactly what you need.
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