Friday, August 3, 2012

Great back-to-school shopping deals



Looking for back-to-school deals and bargains? The Money Saving Mom Crystal Paine always has great information on her blog about where to find the best deals at stores and online. Today, I'd like to share with you some advice on shopping for school supplies and back-to-school clothes. 


3 Simple Ways to Save Money on Back-To-School Supplies


1.  Start Early

Don’t wait until the last minute to get your back-to-school shopping done. Not only is it stressful to wait until the last minute to shop, but you’ll also spend a lot more money.

Big store chains like Target and Walmart, drug stores like CVS and Walgreens, and office supply stores like Office Depot and Staples begin their back-to-school sales a number of weeks before school actually starts. Start picking up the best deals each week (like the $0.01 bargains at Staples or the free-after-rebate offers at Office Depot) and by the time when most people begin their back-to-school shopping, you will already have most of your shopping done -- and all for pennies on the dollar!

2.  Buy Extras

When looking at the back-to-school sales, don’t just buy what’s on the required list from your local school. Buy extras of things like glue, crayons, paper, notebooks, markers, and other items you use on a regular basis around your home.

I look forward to the back-to-school deals each year so that I can stock up on office and craft supplies we use on a regular basis -- all at the cheapest prices I’ll be able to get all year. My philosophy: Why pay $1 or more for a bottle of glue in November, when you can stock up in August and only pay $0.25 per bottle of glue?

Plus, since many teachers have to pay for some of their classroom supplies out of pocket, consider buying extras of the great deals and donating them to your childrens’ classroom. Or, you could purchase them for local families who are struggling financially.

3.  Price-Match at Walmart

Instead of going to 3-5 different stores each week to stock up on the amazing back-to-sale bargains, you can just stop by Walmart and price-match all of the local deals there. Just check the ads in your newspaper or online and make a list of local prices, take these to Walmart, and tell your cashier what local prices you’re price-matching your items to.

Walmart’s corporate coupon policy says you don’t need an ad in order to price-match. However, I usually bring the ads with me, just in case there’s any issue or confusion over what the price is.

3 Ways to Save Money on Back-to-School Clothes Shopping


1.  Don’t Buy Brand Names -- Unless You Get Them Off the Clearance Rack

When your children are young, they don’t know the difference between name brand clothes purchased at a high-end boutique and Target brand clothes purchased at a garage sale for $0.25. And they are just going to wear out, rip, and stain their clothing, so it’s pretty pointless to spend a fortune on their wardrobe.

My price point for clothing for my kids is $4 to $5 or less for tops and bottoms. When I only pay a few dollars for a shirt or pair of pants, I don’t have to cringe if they spill half a cup of spaghetti sauce down the front of their t-shirt.

And truthfully, I’ve found that Target brands hold up pretty similarly to more expensive brands, so it just doesn’t seem worth it to pay quite a bit more for higher quality clothing when children are younger -- especially since they seem to constantly be growing out of their clothes!

2. Maximize Your Savings With Online Coupon Codes and Cashback Offers

Many online sites -- such as Land’s End, The Children’s Place, Kohl’s, and Old Navy -- often offer a sitewide coupon codes for 15% to 30% off your entire order. Some of these sites also allow you to “stack” coupons which means you can use two coupons on one order.

So, not only can you get 20% off with a coupon code, but you may also be able to use a coupon code to get free shipping, too. Check RetailMeNot.com for online coupon codes available at hundreds of online retailers.

In addition, shop through Ebates.com to get cashback on your order -- usually somewhere around 3 to 8% cashback. Just sign up for a free account at Ebates.com, login before making an online purchase and search for the online site you’re purchasing through, click through and make your purchase online. Within 90 days, you’ll receive a check for all of your cashback purchases for the last three months.

3.  Check Consignment Sales, Thrift Stores, and Garage Sales

If you have more time than money, I’d highly recommend scouting out area consignment stores, thrift stores, consignment sales, and garage sales. If you’re willing to dig a little, you can often find some amazing like-new bargains at secondhand stores.

Sign up for local consignment store’s email lists to be notified of discount days or fill-a-bag for $5 specials. If your area has a consignment sale, you can offer to volunteer at the sale and you’ll often get first dibs on the best deals.


Crystal Paine is a wife, mom of three, and the owner of MoneySavingMom.com. Check MoneySavingMom.com on Saturdays for the best back-to-school deals at Office Depot, Office Max, CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and Staples for each upcoming week.

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