I’ve started to get questions about Back to School shopping and deals. Trust me, it’s been on my to-do list for a couple weeks now – but the truth is, I’M JUST NOT READY! I feel like my kids just got out of school and I’m thoroughly enjoying our lazy days of summer and wish that time could slow down a little bit. However, time does not slow down. So, today I’m finally getting off my duff to do my best to prep you for the deals that are here and/or coming.
Before we start, a bit of a disclaimer. This year, I have decided to scale back a bit on what I’m doing. Why? Think of it this way: a page view is like a vote. When you choose to read a post, it’s a vote that the content was useful, or at least caught your attention in some way. This feedback helps me decide how to spend my time, efforts, and in some cases, dollars, in building future content. So please keep that in mind as you read on.
- School Supply Round-up. For the past few years, I’ve teamed with a number of bloggers to compile a weekly round-up of the best school supply deals happening at nationally-based chains such as Staples, Office Depot/Max, Target, Rite Aid, Walmart and more. While I felt this was an incredibly helpful tool, the page views and response just don’t justify the amount of work involved each week for me to participate this year. Unfortunately, I won’t be collaborating this year.
- Staples. This year, I’m pleased to announce I’ll be partnering with Staples to highlight some of their best deals and prices. I’m very much looking forward to give you the best information about how to maximize your back to school shopping at Staples.
- Highlighted deals. As always, we’ll be keeping our eyes out for top deals happening at other stores and do our best to alert you of those as we spot them. I’ll call out Fred Meyer’s deals on the weekly post I publish on Sunday or Monday. We’ll also share Amazon deals as we spot them.
- Recipes & Tips. So what will I spend my extra time and effort on? I’d prefer to share content related to back to school lunches, afternoon snack ideas, organization tips, and more.
Back to School Shopping Tips
I wanted to give you some general tips for saving money on school supplies this year.
- If you want to wait until August – you’ll be OK! In the early years of my blog, I used to advocate shopping earlier for the best deals. However, after reviewing several years’ of store prices and trends, I’ve changed my tune. Expect good prices clear through August.
- Sometimes, it’s worth paying a bit more for name brands. It’s very common to see the generic brands fall to super cheap prices. However, in my experience the name brands may hold up a bit better and give you more for your money. (For instance, I will gladly pay $0.25 more for a pack of Crayola crayons.)
- Read the fine print of sales carefully. Some stores have “penny” type sales where you can get select school supplies for cheap. But, make sure you’ve read the fine print carefully. In some situations, there may be a minimum purchase required in order to take advantage (e.g., “$5-10 minimum purchase”). Additionally, sometimes there may be a limit of how many items you can purchase.
- Watch stores that allow you to stack store, manufacturer coupons and rebate/mobile offers. Target usually puts out some pretty solid store coupons and Cartwheel offers that you can use with manufacturer’s coupons. Fred Meyer sometimes will put out extra bonus and store coupons that will save you 10-20% extra on school supplies. And don’t forget the drugstores – Walgreens and Rite Aid are sometimes surprisingly good options for saving money on school supplies.
- Pick up extras! I *always* pick up extra school and office supplies during the year because they are going to be at their lowest prices. I store some of these out in my garage.
I also expect we’ll see manufacturer’s coupons released soon. The best sources to find these are Sunday newspaper inserts, Coupons.com, and occasionally – on the manufacturer’s Facebook and websites.
Back-to-School Stock-up Prices
I wanted to provide you with some price points from prior years to give you an idea of what I expect we might find for 2017. Click the image below to see a bigger version:
The 2015 and 2016 prices come from the prior years’ collaborations headed by Pocket Your Dollars. A notable caveat about these prices is that they came from advertised deals posted from several large, national chains (think Staples, Target, Walgreens, etc.). It’s entirely possible some of these prices may have been bested through other methods not accounted for (for instance, Amazon Subscribe & Save, visiting a thrift store, or using stacked coupons on unadvertised deals).
The 2017 price points are my best guess as to what the lowest advertised prices are we’ll find this shopping season. Of course, if you find a deal slightly above one of these price points, don’t let that deter you! In my opinion, it’d be far better to pay $0.25 more for a ruler while doing a single shopping trip than holding out for a better deal and making another trip out to another store. (The cost in time and gas is worth more than the $0.25 savings.) Bottom line: use these prices as a guide or benchmark, but don’t let them dictate your shopping, either.
Now it’s your turn: I’d love to know your thoughts about back to school shopping! What kind of deals can we help you find? Any other ideas for me & my team as we set out to report on deals for Fred Meyer, Target, and Amazon this year? Sound off in the comments below!