How I Save $$$ in my Classroom!

Holy cow! Being a teacher is super expensive. It must be because we make sooo much money that schools and parents expect us to provide so many supplies and resources in our classroom. {Insert LOTS of sarcasm there!} But seriously, every time I go to the grocery store I find myself buying a treat for an upcoming party or ingredients for a science experiment. And when I go to Wal-Mart, I need art supplies and office supplies. Then I stop by the dollar store for organizational products, cards, dice, etc. And don't get me near a bookstore. Or one of those expensive teaching stores! I can go nuts! And then there is Teachers Pay Teachers. I just LOVE that site! It makes my life easier and I attribute it to some of my classroom success. But I sure can drop a few bucks on the site!

Is it just me? Am I just a shop-a-holic? Probably! But I am guessing I am not alone.

Well this post is for the other broke teachers that spent their paycheck at Barnes and Noble last week! Here are a few ways that I attempt to save money in the classroom...

First, ask parents for help! I have found that many of my parents are more than willing to help if they know what I need. At Open House, I always post a display that shows families what I need.

But during the year, I plan FUN stuff and that always means I need more supplies! So I do my best to plan ahead for holiday celebrations. Then I make a digital sign up using Sign Up Genius.

If you haven't used this site yet- you NEED to. It is FREE! It allows you to type out things you need and then send a sign up by email. This way I don't need to keep track of who said they could bring what. It is a time saver! I send one before every class celebration.

My next idea may seem obvious to some. But when a teammate started doing this last year, I thought it was genius! USE PAGE PROTECTORS!

Seriously, I ask each student to bring a box of page protectors at the beginning of the year. I use them to cut back on the expensive paper that I have to provide for my classroom! During reading groups, I make 6 copies of each passage and slide them into page protectors. My students close read and answer the questions using a dry erase marker. Then I erase and use them with the next group! I do the same thing with math activities and games. Then I file the pages in a binder and I can use the again next year! Huge copy paper saver!

Next, save those printer ink cartridges! Many office supply stores will give you store credit for turning them in! I always have plenty! Stick a request in your class newsletter and you might be pleasantly surprised by how many families will send in their ink cartridges too! Then you can use the store credit for more ink and paper. Yay!

Next, always ask for an educator's discount! Seriously! You never know! The worst that will happen is they say no. I rarely have that happen! Most stores and restaurants give us penniless teachers a little break. And every little bit helps!

I love to buy products from Teacher pay Teachers. They are cheaper than books from the teaching store and more current and engaging. To save money on these great products, I always go back and leave feedback on products I buy. When you leave feedback, you get credits towards future purchases!

And my BIGGEST $$$$ saver- USE DONORS CHOOSE!!!! Seriously, if you have never used this site, you truly missing out. The site allows teacher to ask for certain products and individuals and businesses can donate money to their project. When the teacher has enough donors o fund the project, the items are mailed to you! Seriously!!! I started doing this a year ago and I have already had over $1,500 in products donated to my classroom! I received dice, base 10 blocks, base 10 kits for students, several math games, tons of fraction manipulatives, teacher books, dozens or great read-a-louds, a set of 6 dictionaries and a color printer with lots of ink! That is a HUGE saving for a pretty new teacher!

If you do have a Donor's Choose project, then you NEED to join the Caring Classroom Facebook Page. The page is run by the amazing Laura Candler. If you donate a $1 or more to one of the projects on her page, you can submit your project to be considered. Each week she chooses projects to add to her page. I have been added twice and both project were funded very quickly!

These are just a few way I try to stretch the dollar in my classroom. What do you do to save money?