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Every parent needs them, so why not save money when shopping for school supplies this year.
I love back-to-school sales! Yes, I’m the crazy parent that starts shopping for back-to-school in June while most are still taking finals. It just fits my mantra – “Never pay full price.” Shopping early and often is the way to go during the back-to-school sale season. Knowing your prices and how low they will go is what is going to save you the most.
Who should take advantage of back-to-school deals?
- Homeschool Families
- Cyber School Families
- Public School Families
- Private School Families
- Scout Leaders
- Sunday School Teachers
- Hebrew School Teachers
- Classroom Teachers
- Daycare Providers
- Anyone who ever writes, draws, or prints anything
Not all back-to-school sales are created equal
Walmart sets their sale prices at the beginning of the season and while their prices are better in July & August than the rest of the year, the prices don’t vary from week to week. One benefit of shopping Walmart is that you can purchase your items online and pick them up in the store without paying an additional fee. This is particularly helpful if you are shopping for a lot of supplies or running errands is particularly challenging. We only have 1 car – so I love getting our Walmart orders squared away online and then I get an email when they are ready and can just run out to pick them up in evening or early morning.
OfficeMax/Office Depot is my personal favorite for back-to-school shopping. With so many resources why is this a favorite? Two words: PENNY SALES! A few times during the sale season, OfficeMax will have select items for only a penny. Usually, there is a limit of 4 of each item, and you need to have a $5 purchase to get the deal. No additional rebates are needed, and you can sometimes purchase a larger quantity if you are a classroom teacher (at the store managers discretion). I will pick up all of the penny deal in a given week, and then fill in the rest of my $5 purchase with sale items we need anyway including pricier items like printer paper or ink. If there are penny deals that I don’t need, but I’m at the store that week anyway, I pick them up to donate to the local women’s shelter. It costs me only a few cents and makes a world of difference for someone else.
Staples has a lot of good sales, and the stores are typically very well stocked. They do have a maximum quantity on many of the sale items, but do allow teachers to purchase larger quantities for their classrooms. I have also noticed that Staples has really good school supply sales throughout the year, just not all at the same time so if its the “off-season” and you’re looking for a deal check your Staples ad.
Over the past few years, Target has been hit or miss in the sales department. They have great deals on clothing, including school uniforms, and organizational items for lockers and dorms, but the cost of school supplies isn’t always up to the same level of savings as Walmart, Staples, and OfficeMax/Office Depot.
Stock Up Prices
Sale or no sale, you need to know your prices. How else will you know you’re getting a good deal? Since I’ve been shopping for school supplies for well over a decade, I feel confident in knowing what’s a good price, and when I should wait for a different sale.
- pencils – 1¢ for a 12 pack during the penny sales or $1/12 pack any other time
- erasers – 1¢ for a 3 pack during the penny sales or $1/3 pack
- pens – Stick with name brand ballpoint pens. Bic & Papermate are my two go-to brands. You can often score free pens with coupons. Stock up price – 50¢/bag.
- highlighters – 50¢/3pack
- crayons – 25¢ for a 24ct box of Crayola Crayons
- colored pencils – less than $1 for a box of 12
- markers – less than $1 for a box of 12
- regular & double-stick tape – $1 per roll during the sales. Dollar Tree carries Scotch Tape for $1 a roll all year.
- glue sticks – 1¢ for a 3 pack of glue sticks during the penny sales or $1/3 pack regular sale
- glue – 50¢ per bottle of Elmer’s glue, 25¢ for store brand
- folders – 1¢ each during the penny sales, or a 10 pack of 2-pocket folders for $2.50
- notebooks – less than 25¢ for 1-subject notebooks
- composition books – 50¢ each
- loose leaf paper – less than $1 for a pack of 120 sheets
- binders – This one gets tricky depending on the size of the binder. You can usually find a 1 1/2 inch binder for under $3. Dollar Tree carries 1″ binders throughout the year.
- dividers – $1 a pack
- index cards – 50¢ per pack of 100
- post its – $1 a pad
- scissors – You can get really good Westcott or Fiskars scissors for $1.50 a pair or less
- ruler – 25¢ each
- single hole punch – $1 each
- handheld pencil sharpener – 1¢ each during the penny sales or 25¢ each the rest of the time