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Teaching Strategies: How to Save Money

Janelle Cox

Whether it’s the drooping economy, or you’re a new teacher without a lot of resources, teachers are always looking for how to save money, to ensure they will have success in their classroom. Many schools are underfunded, which means if teachers want or need something for their classroom, then they either must learn how to be creative with the funding they are given, or have to spend their own money.

You don’t have to spend a lot to ensure that your classroom is getting what it needs. Here are a few tips to help you learn how to save money.

Utilize Technology

Think about all of the paper that you use in your classroom, from sending weekly newsletters home to permission slips, you could probably fill a football stadium. All of this written correspondence is not only bad for the environment, but it’s taking up a lot of your time. You have to type the letter, then make copies, then hand out the copies to the students. You can avoid all of this and save money by utilizing technology. In the beginning of the school year, ask parents to sign up for a weekly newsletter that comes via e-mail, and start a class website where parents can stay up to date with everything that is going on in the classroom. E-mail is free, and there are many free easy-to-use websites that you can use to start your own classroom website. Think of all that money being saved!

Ask for Donations

Ask parents for donations -- this may include used books, games, dress up clothes for the play area, or toys. E-mail parents politely asking them to consider donating and you will be surprised just how many parents will! You can even have students write thank-you letters as part of your language arts activity. If you don’t feel comfortable asking parents for donations then you can ask strangers in said. Just go to Donorschoose.org/teachers and you can share you classroom needs and people in the community will find it for you. It’s really that easy, and you will not have to spend a dime.

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Explore More Group Work

Not only are cooperative learning groups more fun for students, but they also will save you money. Think about all of the money that you can save when students share materials. It’s not always necessary for each student to have their own copy or individual textbook. All you have to do is divide students into groups and only purchase a few copies of the books that you need and let the groups share them. Or, if you’re not using books, then just photocopy a few worksheets and have groups use the same papers. Group work enhances students communication skills and not to mention less papers for you to grade. It’s a win-win situation.

Share with Co-Workers

Team-teaching is all the rage in schools today. If you’re not one of the schools that are learning to work together in a collaborative work environment, then you should consider it. When you work together and share resources, you will save money. If your school doesn’t have the funding, then you can even pool your money together and buy whatever you need for the classroom at half the cost.

Borrow or Buy Used

Every classroom needs books, and when you have your own classroom library, this can really take a toll on your wallet. Ask your school library, borrow from a fellow teacher, ask for donations, or go to your local yard sale and purchase books as little as a penny. Another option is to swap your books online at Amazon or Paperbackswap. You don’t have to pay anything but the shipping charges for these websites.

Buy in Bulk

Stores like BJ’s Wholesale and Costco make it really easy for teachers to purchase a lot of items in bulk at low prices. The cost of paper and pencils can be reduced when you purchased them at bulk store, plus it will be reduced even further if you go in on the items with other teachers. If you think you won’t need 1,000 pencils, think about who else in your school would to split the cost with you, or you can use them   following school year.

Tax Deductions

Keep your receipts! You can get a tax reduction for the items that you purchased out of pocket. The maximum amount is $250, which can be from the purchase of books, supplies and any computer software or equipment that you have bought. Talk to your accountant and don’t miss out on these savings.

Follow these tips and you will cut down on the amount of supplies that you need, as well as the amount of money that you spend. Don’t be afraid to ask for donations, and remember, you don’t have to spend a lot of many to ensure that you students are getting everything that need.

Do you have any money saving tips that you would like to share? Please share with us in the comment section below. We would love to hear your ideas.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the elementary education expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or visit her website at Empoweringk6educators.