Tips to help teachers save on back-to-school supplies

Back-to-school time is around the corner.  The National Education Association reports 90% of teachers will spend an average of $820 this year on supplies for their classrooms.

So we hit the books to find teachers ways to get those supplies cheap, or even free.

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First, there are shops that specialize in deals on school supplies.  The Teacher Creature Store in Spring was founded by teachers who want to help other teachers save money.  It offers classroom supplies at a discount.

"As I’ve been teaching longer, I thought why not start a Facebook community for teachers, and this way we can post different sales and different things for teachers, to help teachers save money," said teacher Jennifer Graf.

Graf started the Teacher and Family Deals Facebook Group, that now has 68,000 members, to help teachers find deals, coupons, and coupon codes on classroom supplies.

"We do a daily deals post every day, and within the comments of that post, we post most of our sales," explained Graf.

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Teachers can also post items that they need and others can donate the supplies.

"It would be great if you could pick a wishlist, pick a teacher and class, and sponsor a teacher. We’d have some very happy teachers," said Graf.

There are other Facebook groups, too, like Beg, Barter, Buy, Sell Teacher Supplies Northwest Houston, and the Facebook Marketplace where teachers buy and sell used or leftover items.

The Houston Food Bank offers supplies through the Teachers Aid Program to teachers at schools where at least 60% of students receive free or reduced-price lunch.

The Freecycle Network is a popular site for teachers, where people give away things they no longer need.

Many teachers turn to grant-writing for funding, such as the Walmart Community Grants of $250 to $5000 for school supplies.

Teachers can request free books from Half Price Books, which focuses on literacy, the environment, and education.

Many retailers offer discounts for teachers, including Target, Apple, Adidas, Adobe, Barnes and Noble, Dollar General, Reebok, Joann, Staples, and Steve Madden.  If you shop with a cashback app like Ibotta, Rakuten, or Checkout 51, you can save even more.

And teachers can also sign up for an Amazon Business for Education account, where they can get discounts, payment options, and business-only pricing.

One more helpful tip: teachers can take a federal income tax deduction of up to $250 for classroom supplies.