Office, School, and Art Supplies for Cheap or Free

Does it ever seem like your kids waste tons of paper for art projects that inevitably get thrown away? That’s definitely the case here if I’m not paying attention. This post covers office, school, and/or art supplies, depending on the stage of life of your family members.

Buying Cheap

  1. Check out thrift stores/yard sales for some office supplies. My #1 money-saving purchase is definitely binders. I can often find the nice binders with clear covers and pockets for $.50-1.50. New, they would cost $4-6 at Walmart. They generally need a little dusting, but that’s it. Binders last forever if you’re not carrying them around in a backpack. Just check to make sure the rings aren’t broken.
  2. Stock up during the back-to-school sale, and not just for your kids. Everything from paper to crayons is on sale during July and August, so use this opportunity to buy enough supplies for the year.
  3. Consider buying your printer ink online. I have a basic HP printer. I used to run out of ink at very inconvenient times and had to run to the store mid-week. I was also spending about $60 every 3 months for ink cartidges. Since I signed up for HP’s Instant Ink program, which charges by the page, I spend just over $5 a month to print 150 pages, which I almost never use up. It doesn’t matter if the pages are full color or black and white. When my printer starts getting low, I get new ink in the mail. I can’t tell you how much more convenient this has been! The pages also roll over from month to month, up to 200 pages.
office supplies

Getting Free Stuff (Thanks to Repurposing)

  1. If you end up with handouts or printouts with blank sides, why not use the other side? I scribble out love notes, blog posts, and all sorts of things on scratch paper. When my kids want to do art projects, I give them the scrap paper to use. They don’t usually mind that there’s something printed on the other side.
  2. Save rubber bands from produce. It’s amazing how many I’ve accumulated, and I’ve never had to buy a single one! They tend to be pretty durable, too.
  3. Make your own notepads. I cut scratch paper into fourths and staple it together.
  4. Reuse old folders as dividers in binders. They are sturdy and work as well as real dividers, Plus, they often have pockets!
  5. Completely use up school supplies. While James and I were in school, we used the same supplies until they were completely trashed. Though I’m not sure we’ve thrown away any binders, we finally used up notebooks after several classes of intense note-taking. When a new semester started, we fixed up binders, flipped over dividers and put in new labels, and ripped out old pages in notebooks to make room for new classes.
  6. Save bubble wrap-lined envelopes and small boxes for mailing things in the future. There’s no need to stockpile them, but keeping 1 or 2 around can save a few bucks at the post office.

Organizing Papers

Binders and dividers are my very favorite way to keep things neat. I use binders for the following;

  • Important papers and financial documents, organized by year.
  • Inventories of food storage, kids’ clothing, etc.
  • Home and loan documents.

I hate having too many papers around, so I try to keep things to a minimum. I clean out papers as often as I can, only keeping ones we absolutely need (7 years of taxes, 3 of bills not paid online, which isn’t many these days). I don’t let junk mail accumulate. It goes in the trash as soon as it gets in the house. For papers that need sorting a little later, I pin them to a cork board and take care of them within the week. These include receipts and bills that need to be paid.

There’s no reason for office supplies or papers to take over your life, whether in expensive costs or clutter. Keeping both expenses and clutter to a minimum keeps me happy. (See my other posts on organization here!)

2 thoughts on “Office, School, and Art Supplies for Cheap or Free”

  1. I hope all of your posts end up as a book one day. I could add a chapter on fixing things and child-friendly home modifications like spring hinges, high electrical outlets for nightlights, two light switches in the bathroom… but maybe not the funnel for the van.

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