Let’s face it; sending the kids back to school is not cheap. Clothes, shoes, backpacks, lunchboxes: it all adds up quickly. Then we are presented with the all-important list: school supplies. While this is yet another expense, it doesn’t have to be expensive.
Retailers are armed with back-to-school sales. Most, if not all of them, will advertise super low prices to entice you to shop at their store. For example, Target has Crayola crayons for $0.25 which is about eighty percent off the regular price. This is called a loss leader. They know that you are in the market for inexpensive school supplies, so they mark things down, entice you in and hope you’ll do all your other shopping as well, paying regular price for other items.
By doing your homework before hitting the stores, you can pick up all the school supplies your child needs to start year without emptying your pocketbook. Everyone wants to know the best place to buy inexpensive school supplies. The following stores will help you get the kids back-to-school without breaking the bank.
At CVS and Walgreens, you can do your back-to-school shopping and get rewarded, too. Check your local ad to see if the school supplies you need are on sale. Some items are targeted to get Extra Bucks or Register Rewards with the required purchase. You can then turn around and use the rewards on your next transaction. Walgreens also has in-store coupons that can be used in conjunction with manufacturers’ coupons, saving you even more money. Check your local store for specific policies.
Big box chains like Target, WalMart, and Kmart want you to purchase all of your school supplies and other necessities in one of their stores. These stores are all competing against each other-and your wallet. Typically, most school supplies are at rock bottom prices at these stores. Crayons, pencils, one subject notebooks, and folders are usually the supplies featured in the ad. If you can find manufactures’ coupons, that is a bonus. Target has a link on the bottom of the front page of their site under “Target Stores” that enables you to print store coupons at home.
If you like to plan ahead and spread your money over some time, Kmart is one of the last stores that still offers layaway. They also have recently launched online layaway as well.
Office Supply Stores
Office Max, Office Depot, and Staples have really started to try get more of your back-to-school business. Generally speaking, their sale prices on school supplies may be slightly higher than that of the discount chains and in some instances the same or lower; however, by looking at the ad, you may find the supplies that you need are tagged for a rebate or some sort of buy-one-get-one sale.
For example, recently Office Max advertised their backpacks for free when you used their MaxPerks card. You purchase the backpack(s), scan your card, and in six to eight weeks you would receive that amount of money (on a printout) to use in the store.
Staples advertised a similar deal using their Easy Rebate System.
Here are some additional tips to take advantage of those great sales no matter where you shop:
Buy more than what is required
If it is feasible for your budget, try to double the amount required on the school supply list. Inevitably those crayons are going to need to be replaced by winter break, or your child will remember at bedtime on a Sunday that he or she needs a new notebook. Having the extra on hand saves you time and money! If the extras aren’t needed, you can always roll them into next year.
Don’t always go for the cheapest deal
Paying only $0.01 cent for a folder is a great deal, but how long will it hold up? For the elementary set, it may be wise to go ahead and purchase a sturdier folder. If that folder tears, it won’t be $0.01 anymore. Sometimes more of an investment in the beginning saves in the long run.
Be willing to shop around
If it is convenient in your area, be willing to go to more than one store to gather those school supplies. For example, recently WalMart had their twelve-count colored pencils on special for $1.00. However, Target had them for $0.88. That’s only a $0.24 savings on two packs, but it can add up over an entire list of school supplies if you are armed with who-has-what-at-what-price.
Getting the kids’ back-to-schoo to school supplies CAN be inexpensive. With a little homework and strategic planning, you will know where to buy the most school supplies for the least amount of money. Your pocketbook will thank you for it.
Donna L. Montaldo: About.Com.Walgreens EasySaver, Coupons, and RegisterRewards Programs