As we blaze into August, the back-to-school advertising and sales descend with thunder. Even though much of the Pacific Northwest has several weeks until school begins, most national retailers plan their sales and promotions around East coast schools, many of whom begin school early this month. So we are forced to start thinking about buying school supplies just as we’re starting to enjoy the sun.
If you’re strategic about buying your children’s school supplies, you can save big. Here are four tips for spending less on school supplies:
1. Shop with your child’s list in hand.
Don’t try to guess what your child will need. Most school supply lists are available on the school or district website right now.
If you are shopping for more than one child, combine their lists into on master list. The information is much more manageable and you can better see what you need to purchase. I just created a Word doc and re-typed the supplies. I grouped them by school supplies, craft store supplies, and household supplies so I could streamline my shopping.
2. Shop the loss-leaders.
Office Depot, Staples, Walgreens, and Rite Aid typically drop the price on a handful of school supplies every week, trying to get you in the store to buy the rest of your school supply list. (See our up-to-date School Supply Deals list here.)
You will save the most money if you do these “loss leader” deals and then buy the rest of your list instead at Walmart, Target, or Fred Meyer as they have most of what you need at pretty good prices.
In fact, download our special School Supply Price Sheet, complete with all the prices at Walmart, Target, or Fred Meyer, so you can make a plan right now. Just enter your info below and we’ll send it straight to you inbox!
3. Shop for non-school needs as well.
Think about your household, business, homeschool, crafting, and gifting needs as well as your kids’ school supply list.
I typically include what my husband and I will need over the next year for our businesses and our family — white-out, Sharpies, dry erase pens as well as items to give to others — Operation Christmas Child boxes, school supply drives, Christmas gifts, and just having extras on hand to drop by your child’s teacher to help him/her out.
4. Shop NOW.
Early August is when you will find the rock-bottom prices and the best selection. Retailers stop re-stocking most supplies by the end of the month. If you wait until Labor Day to shop, you will be paying retail and might not even be able to find what’s on the list.
Yes, I want you to feel some pressure on this one. Awhile back, we transferred our daughter to a new school at the last minute and I had to shop for her supplies the week after Labor Day. The stores were out of most items and for the items I could find, I had to pay full retail. I am not joking, I could not find 24 count Crayola crayons anywhere.
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