Saving Money on Back to School Supplies

by Merissa on August 23, 2011

in Back to School, Thrifty Living

Bulk School Supplies - Little House Living

It’s that time of year again. All you seem to notice when you head to the store are the huge bins filled with pens, pencils, and notebooks. There seems to be a sale or a deal on all those school supplies everywhere, but how do you know what’s the best deal?

  1. Watch for loss leaders at the office supply stores. They are generally on the front page of the ad. If you watch starting around the end of July all the way through August you can get everything from pens to erasers for as little as free after rebate or $0.01 - $0.10 an item. Generally these things have a limit per visit but no one is saying you can’t visit every day… :)
  2. Don’t feel like you need to spend the extra money on brand name supplies, or character supplies. The folder with Elmo on it might be cute but so is the pink one that you can decorate with stickers that you have laying around in your junk drawers at home.
  3. Price match. Can’t make it all the way across town to get the deal you want? Both Walmart and Target will price match as long as you have the ad and they have the same item. That means you could take both the Office Max and Office Depot ad to Walmart, and get all of the deals, in one place and in one shopping trip saving you time and gas.
  4. Watch for coupons. Around back to school time, companies like 3M, Bic, ect, will start rolling out some high value coupons. Often these can be matched up with a great sale to make the items free. Sign up for the periodic emails from companies that make school and office supplies to you make sure to get any coupons they send out, right in your inbox.
  5. Don’t shop during back to school shopping season at all, shop after. This is something you can do for next year. Each year when I purchase office supplies, I always wait for back to school sales to end. Stores clearance out what they have left and you can get items for rock bottom prices. Last year I paid $0.02 per spiral bound notebook. I bought 30 of them. Think ahead and shop smart, keep bulk school supplies for next year in a plastic storage tote so they stay safe and dry.

So watch for sales, shop smart, price match to save time and gas. Happy back to school shopping!

Do you buy bulk school supplies? What are you best tips for buying school supplies?

 

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Charity August 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Do you know when stores typically start discounting their back to school supplies? Is it sometime in September?

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2 Merissa August 26, 2011 at 6:39 pm

I would say around the 3rd week or end of September, they bigger stores will start clearancing because they want to get the Halloween out!

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3 The Backyard Farmwife July 25, 2012 at 9:09 am

I am addicted to buying school/office supplies! My kids hardly even use a fraction of what I buy each year, but I do it every fall… ;o)

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4 Heidi Morgan July 25, 2012 at 10:45 am

We homeschool so I buy enough to last the whole year while everything is cheap in August.

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5 James D. August 9, 2013 at 7:23 pm

And if you don’t like spending your hard earned money at Walmart you can take the Walmart ad to OfficeMax and Office Depot and they will price match as well.

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6 Me October 5, 2013 at 7:13 pm

As a retired teacher and mother to two grown daughters, I have had extensive experience purchasing school supplies. All of the above are great ways to save money. For some items, it is best to purchase name brand (crayola crayons, name brand markers that won’t instantly dry out, etc.). For paper, the cheaper the better. Teachers often ask that each child bring a ream of copy paper. Be careful to shop those back to school sales at the office supply stores (held in July and August). You might pay less than $1.00 for a ream of paper as a loss leader, or pay $5 or more at an office supply, discount store, drugstore, grocery, etc. Finally, do not give your child all of his/her supplies at once. I have often watched children (these were 5th graders) use multiple packages of notebook paper, a whole year’s supply or more, by December. They are not using it for work, but for pictures, notes, drawing, paper airplanes, etc. If you send them to school with an entire year’s worth of supplies, they will be gone, for one reason or another, within a couple of months. In one situation (a low income school where some children brought in supplies, and some did not), we labeled everything with their names and distributed as needed. For those who did not bring supplies, I bought theirs using the methods described above. For paper, which tends to grow legs and wings to walk and fly away with, I collected all paper and passed it out as needed, if a student wanted or needed more for a good reason, they got it. I always purchased extra paper, pencils, folders, and other basic supplies before the year started. When parents and I controlled the supplies, the students had enough, even extra, for the entire year without having to purchase additional in January!

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