With an unstable economy and retail prices soaring, it is important to be a smart consumer. Many households cannot pay their bills, let alone afford to pay for expensive office supplies just to “have” them. Practicing smart shopping and using these tips will save you from draining your wallet.

1) Before you even grab a pencil to start jotting down a list, think to yourself, “Is there anything I have at home or any leftovers from last year that I can reuse?” Take into account what you have and need. Do not convince yourself or your parents to buy items you already own. The old ones will work just as well, and the funds being saved can be used for more expensive, but necessary items.

2) Now that you know what supplies you already own, you can create your list. Make sure you separate your wants from your needs. A Buzz Lightyear pencil sharpener that costs ten dollars may seem awesome, but a two dollar sharpener will serve the same purpose, and not to mention, it will not be a classroom disruption.

3) We live in the 21st century and we can take advantage of technology! Think about all the free resources that can replace expensive purchases. A typical flash drive costs about $10, but you can cross that off your list because you can just create a Dropbox account or use the Google account that has been set up for each student by the school. Both are online programs, and the best part about it is that they are free! You can “simplify your life” and save and open all your essays or articles at school or home with both services.

4) If there are extra supplies you still may need, make wise choices on the items you purchase. Brand name items are not always the best option. But a black pen is a black pen, so as long as it gets the job done, does it matter what brand it is? And if it does require a name brand, use the Internet to conduct research to compare prices.

5) Always be on the watch for coupons, sales, and promotions. You can find these in your local newspaper, or you may find them online at the product’s website. Every cent counts.

Whether your supply list is long or short, it will be a lot easier to get every item on the list if you stay money smart.

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