Believe it or not, it’s time to buy those school supplies (we go back to school here in Kansas in three weeks). I asked Maureen Welsh of KC Strategic Shopping how to save money this back-to-school season. Her answer-price match. Thanks to Maureen for sharing her wisdom. If you get a chance, please pop on over and like her Facebook page!
You might be reading this blog with the same bemusement that you regard the Halloween aisle in August. But, whether you like it or not, the school supply sales are here. This morning I was on Fox 4 News providing my KC Strategic Shopping tips on how to save big this year on school supplies. But I also want to dedicate my blog this week to this subject because school supplies and related necessities can be a big drain on the family budget. So here are a few tips to help save you time and money when it comes to Back to School shopping.
1. Make a complete list of the school supplies you need. If you have more than one child this is critical. I have three kids that need school supplies this year. They require many of the same items, but maybe in a different quantity or a different color. So I have a column for each item and then a grand total of how many I have to buy total for all my kids. If you want, you can make a notation under the grand total as to how many each child needs. This will help when you are making their school supply bags to be delivered to their school. This may seem a little cumbersome on the front end, but it will save you lots of time when shopping and organizing. Rather than flipping through two or four lists you have all the information you need in one spot.
2. Shop your home first. You may be surprised at the supplies you already have at home. When my kids come home from the last day of school, they generally bring many supplies with them. If you are “Martha Stewart” organized you probably put those items away in safe place the day they came home from school. If you are more like me, you probably have stumbled across a few of these supplies this Summer as you were looking for something else. So take a look around your house to see if there is anything you can cross of your list before you hit the store. Great “recycled” supplies are durable items like rulers, pencils boxes and scissors.
3. Price Match the school supply sales. You knew this was coming, right? I am the queen of price matching. So yes, I am telling you the best way to save on your school supplies is to price match all the surrounding grocery store, dollar store, drug store, retail store and office supply store sales at Walmart. As the items that you need go on sale, price match them and cross them off your list. About the last week before school, buy whatever else you need to get. If it hasn’t gone on sale in the past month, you most likely won’t get a better deal than the Walmart retail price. And with the KC Strategic Price Match Grocery List it is the easiest and most efficient way to save. Each week the best school supply sales will be included on the Price Match List. And although other stores such as Target, Staples, OfficeMax offer price matching policies, in my opinion the restrictions on their policies take away most of the benefit to price matching. If you would like to price match at these store I recommend you read through their price match policy.
4. Start shopping early. The sales have started so start shopping. Check out the School Supply Department on the KC Strategic Shopping Price Match Grocery List or review your local circulars including drug store, dollar store, grocery store and office supply stores. And don’t forget about Target and Toys R Us as well.
5. Use coupons to supplement your savings. Some school supply manufacturers will put out coupons during this Back to School time. This year we already have a PG coupon for $1/2 any Five Star product. And last year Bic put out a $.50/1 coupon that provided free Bic crystal pens when you used it with the $.50 sale. The KC Strategic Shopping Price Match Grocery List provides coupon match-ups on the list. If you see coupons for school supplies that you need or could use in bulk, such as pens, my suggestion is to order these coupons from www.thecouponclippers.com. For a nominal fee you can obtain them in quantities of 5, 10 or 20 (depending on your need). This is an optimal time to stock up for school, home and to donate to your local School Supply Drive, such as the one held every year by the Salvation Army.
6. Buy extra supplies for your home. At these great prices I suggest that you stock up on the essentials, such as pencils, crayons, glue sticks, colored pencils, etc., that you will need for completing the kids’ homework at home and for craft time.
7. Buy during the Missouri Tax Free Weekend for big ticket items. Every year Missouri hosts a Back To School Tax Sales Holiday during a three-day period beginning at 12:01 a.m. on the firstFriday in August and ending at midnight on the Sunday following. During this time certain back-to-school purchases, such as clothing, school supplies, computers, and other items are exempt from the state tax as well as local sales tax (depending on that local jurisdiction’s participation). There are, however, certain exemptions on what purchases qualify. To review the details visit the Missouri Department of Revenue website. While you most likely won’t realize big savings on your small school supplies, this is a great opportunity to save on big ticket items such as computers, calculators and clothing.
8. Thrift store shopping for back to school clothes. Back to school clothes shopping for your kiddos does not have to break the bank. A few months ago I blogged about shopping the thrift stores for great designer looks at very low prices. While that blog was aimed at the moms, the deals are just as good, if not better, for your kids. So if you are interested in saving big bucks on back to school clothes you can read my savings blog, KC Strategic Shopping Stepping Out of the Grocery Store and Into the Closet.
So there you are, the basic steps to saving big on Back to School shopping. Now after you get over your excitement (or disdain) that we are actually uttering the words “back to school” you can start saving big with your KC Strategic Shopping price match grocery (and school supply) list!
— Maureen Welsh is an attorney, turned stay-at-home mom, turned business owner who founded KC Strategic Shopping. As a price matcher for over seven years Maureen understands the ease and incredible savings of time and money that price matching provides. She now uses her research skills to provide families with a grocery saving program that does not require coupons and that they can easily incorporate into their busy lives, saving them valuable time and money.