Saving on School Supplies
Back to School time is here, and so are the deals! The National Retail Federation estimates that parents plan to spend $150 – $180 per child on school supplies, backpacks, and lunch boxes in 2016, up slightly from last year. Those expenses can really add up when you have multiple kids. So, how can you save on school supplies? Read on for five ways to save money on school supplies before you break the bank.
Plan ahead and Shop Around
First print your school supply lists and make one consolidated list of everything you need to buy. This way you are not carrying around multiple lists that you need to cross off. With your list in hand, browse the online circulars for Target, Walmart, Staples, and Office Depot for items on your list. The best way to save the most money is to shop around and even split your list across 2 stores where you find the best deals. For example, I got $50 worth of school supplies for just $6.59 this week at Office Depot. They have amazing door-buster deals when you spend a min of $5, you can take advantage of $.01 eraser 3 packs, $.01 Elmer’s Glue and $.01 composition notebooks as well as $.25 Crayola Markers and $.25 BIC pen 12 packs.
I bought earbuds for $5, 3 packs of erasers for $.03, 3 packs of markers for $.75, 3 packs of 12 ct pens for $.75, 3 Elmer’s glue for $.03 and 3 composition notebooks for $.03 and I spent a total of $6.59 for these 16 items.
This would’ve originally cost over $50, so I saved 87% by purchasing these items at Office Depot. I actually found some other great deals there as well like $1.00 pencil pouches, $1.00 filler paper, $1.00 3-ring binders, so I was able to cross more than half of my school supply list off with this one stop.
Target was my next stop, where I found 6 pack Elmer’s Glue Sticks for $.99, 24 ct. pencils for $1.00, 3 pack highlighters for just $.99 each and kids scissors for just $.99.
I was able to get all my kids school supplies across these two stores for just $73 for 3 kids, which is just $24 per child for supplies (not including back packs). The deals are out there, you just have to know where the deals are and be willing to make two stops.
Compare Prices before you buy to be sure you are getting the best value
Use the free uGrocery app before you shop to see the best deals on all office and school supplies across local stores before you shop. There is an Office and School Supplies Category in the app that displays all the active sales and deals across Target, Walmart, King Soopers and Safeway and then add those deals to create your list in the app so you know the best place to shop. You can either shop the cheapest store for your whole list, or if you choose to split your list, shop at 2 stores for the most savings.
You can also use the app to compare prices while in a store to confirm you are getting the best deal. Simply scan the product barcode of name brand items and instantly see the prices across local stores.
Use Digital Coupons and Buy Store Brands to Save Even More
King Soopers and Target have digital coupons available in their apps on school supplies that can be stacked on top of in-store sales. The Target Cartwheel app/site has a ton of coupons on pens, highlighters, markers, and even 25% off on backpacks.
Check out the offers before you go into a store, so that you know exactly what brand of item and how many you need to get the extra savings from the digital coupons. Many of the offers are for store brands, which are most often cheaper than the name brands, and the kids will never know the difference between a store brand notebook or eraser and a name brand equivalent.
Shop Off-Peak Hours and Leave the Kids at Home
When shopping for school supplies specifically, I say leave the kids at home. This comes after years of experience in back to school shopping. My kids are now in 6th grade, 3rd grade and Kindergarten. While you may think it will be faster to have your helpers collect the items from the list, you will quickly break your budget with all the non-essentials that end up in your cart. You have a list, and most lists are very specific about colors of folders they need. This way you are making a non-emotional purchase decision based on the list, so stick to the list and you will save the most.
Shop the stores early and avoid peak shopping hours as you will be contending with 100 other hurried parents and kids trying to cross items off their list. This saves your sanity.
Of course you will bring your kids with you when you are shopping for backpacks, lunch boxes, shoes and clothes. This way they are part of the “Back to School Shopping” experience and can contribute their opinions in a more meaningful way.
If you are too busy to physically shop 2 stores to take advantage of the deals, then get the deals online and take advantage of free shipping while you’re at it. I compared the online shopping experience at Target, Walmart, Staples, Office Depot and Amazon, and Target was hands down the easiest user experience for getting all your school supplies in one place.
They even have a feature that allows you download your school list by grade and add the items to your cart with the click of a few buttons! Simply enter your zip code, find your school and grade and the list comes up with the items pre-populted in your cart! Talk about easy. While this is a super cool feature, the best deals did not show up on my auto-generated list, so it’s better to search for each item and add to your cart based on the sales to maximize your savings. You can see it populated the washable crayons that are $1.99, whereas the regular Crayola crayons are on sale for $.50. Target offers free shipping for Red Card members, and you can save an extra 5% on your total purchase when you use your Target Red Card.
Back to school shopping can be costly and stressful. Follow these tips help you to have an easier experience when buying your children’s school supplies this year.