Thursday, August 11, 2011

Shopping for school.....frugally.

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We went school shopping the other day and boy was it fun! Back to school is bittersweet. I LOVE having the kids home for summer because we do all kinds of things and have so much fun but they thrive so much at school and are so happy to be there! There are certain holidays that make me giddy to shop for...Halloween, Easter, Christmas....to me school shopping is almost like another holiday!! The kids are so excited to get their cool new things and I love seeing them so happy but like most holidays, it gets expensive. I have found a few great ways to save on school supplies over the years. This is our 7th year of buying supplies and I've been pretty good at spending minimal money putting them in school. On supplies for 3 kids (my preschooler just needed a bag) we spent about $30 after I compared flyers and used coupons. I bought our shoes on clearance earlier in the year so 3 pairs of shoes for $37. I used $70 in reward dollars from Old Navy for their new clothes so they didn't cost anything. :) The biggest expense was paying for their tuition which was $50 per child. Here are some of the strategies I use here to save on one of the most expensive times of the year.

  • First always compare sales flyers so you can price match at one location for instance. You are going to see some great things to bring customers in the door on sale like .10 rulers but something else like Crayola crayons or glue might be more expensive at that store.
  • Buy off brand supplies. You can buy off brand crayons, glue, fiskars, plastic baggies can be store brand.
  • Don't forget about Amazon! I found several great deals this year on Amazon and supplies but I had already bought.
  • Buy now...buy a few extra if you think your kids are going to need it! Most of the time school supplies after the BTS sales end are almost twice what you paid for them. So I usually will buy just a few extra things to keep around the house hidden in a box just in case my kiddo comes home saying they used all their glue sticks.
  • Buy items in bulk. Several places this time of year will have kleenex or Puffs on sale in bulk. Not only does it knock some cents off the price, if you pair it with a coupon out of the paper you can make the deal even greater.
  • Check Sunday coupons for anything school related or coupons.com. There were several coupons out this year in which free pens were easy to acquire.
  • Reuse things you can get away with reusing again. We reuse bookbags for a few years, lunch bags, scissors, and school boxes. This year Mia got a new bag at Walmart for $4.88! She liked it because of the monkey and I liked it because of the price!
  • If you have rewards, use them. They have a great earning program we use through Old Navy with their credit card. Basically you earn bucks and I had $70 to spend. I was able to use the rewards to buy new clothes for the kids in which they had an awesome sale where their shirts were $5 and jeans were $10! Love Old Navy!!
  • Shop for next years supplies.....in September. If you do like to buy new backpacks and lunch bags alot of places such as Kroger, Walmart, and Target will reduce the prices extremely low rather than to send it back for credit. This is normally how my kids get new bags. I take them with me and we shop when it's about 75% off and I can get a backpack for $3.75. One year I discovered some very expensive Thermos bowls for $3 a piece so I bought 3 so the kids can have HOT food in their sack lunches.
  • Buy ahead! Buy Winter clothes, in the spring/summer! I am one that I never buy in season. Call me crazy but if I can buy my kids jeans on a clearance rack for $3 vs. $10+, I'm gonna do it. I have a special love for Kohls and Burlington Coat Factory with their ginormous out of season racks of clothes. LOVE LOVE LOVE it. Pair that up with a percentage off sale and you've got some major cheap clothes.
One thing I would mention, if you have a few extra bucks, pick up some school supplies for the teachers. :) It's sooooo cheap and a bunch of glue stick you bought for next to nothing could really help a teacher out. These teachers with their limited budget are spending some of their own money to educate our kids. One of our favorite things to do at our school is pulling off a post it note on the Wish Tree. It's basically a tree on the wall with branches containing post it notes on things the teacher could really use. It makes a teacher's day and is also one of those things that makes you feel good that you were able to help out.

Happy Shopping! :D

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