Score Big Back-to-School Savings
While September may seem far away, it will be upon us before you can say “back to school.” As a parent, you know that between school supplies, dorm essentials and clothing, the cost of returning to the classroom can add up fast.
ShopSmart magazine, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, has identified six steps to help shoppers achieve maximum savings on their back-to-school needs. The September 2012 issue also names some of the best sites to shop for great deals on office and school supplies.
“You can get deals on back-to-school items by shopping the sales around town but between the gas and the time spent, it might not be worth it,” says Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. “We’ve come up with some strategies to save you time and still help you get great bargains on school stuff.”
Six Steps to Maximum Savings on School Supplies
1. Compare store circulars. Sites such as Spoofee.com and SundaySaver.com make it easy. At Spoofee, click on the Weekly Ad tab and print out deals. To do a money-saving one-stop shop, take the ads to a store that price matches, such as Walmart or Staples.
2. Find out about tax-free shopping days in August. Many states offer them. Head to taxadmin.org/fta/rate and click on “State Sales Tax Holidays-2012” to see whether your state participates, and do all of your shopping then.
3. Before you buy school clothes, subscribe to the e-mail newsletters of all of your child’s favorite stores. Teen-girl haven Delia routinely sends e-mail messages with coupons, contents, and sale alerts. Sign up at store websites.
4. Shop Back to School Saturday on August 11. Teen Vogue created the event, with two dozen advertisers—including Aeropostale, Express, H&M, Staples and more—offering deals on clothes and other goodies. Find the full list at teenvogue.com.
5. Look for ways to get even more back for your money. Office Depot’s 5 percent Back to Schools Program gives the school a store credit to buy supplies.
6. Shop online. Some of the best deals on school and office supplies are available from the comfort of your home.
Sites to See for Office and School Supply Deals
Shoppers who want to skip the stores for back-to-school items can score great deals online. The following sites offer value, selection and in some cases generous return policies — and they’ve passed tests for privacy, contact-info disclosure and service.
• Guaranteed Deals: DiscountSchoolSupply.com will match the price and refund you 10 percent of the difference if you find items cheaper elsewhere.
• Bulk Supplies: Reliable.com is a great site to stock up on filler paper, pencils and pens. Shoppers will save even more by pooling resources with other parents to earn bulk discounts. Use the price-match policy to save even more. Shopsmart found eight-packs of Crayola crayons for $0.85 a box if you purchase six or more, ($0.95 a box for fewer), compared with $2.09 a box at Amazon.com.
• One-Stop Shopping: SchoolPak.com accepts official supply lists from schools or parent organizations — this enables parents to order a year’s worth of supplies with just a few clicks. Or parents can buy an Essentials kit that contains commonly requested items for your child’s grade level. The $22.07 elementary kit has folders, scissors, and more.
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