Here in upstate New York, school doesn’t start again until after Labor Day, so when the back-to-school catalogs started arriving in the mail a few weeks ago, I was not happy. Of all the seasons, summer is the one I least want to wish away! However, now that the Sunday newspaper fliers have started to highlight back-to-school sales, I’ve decided to make the most of the time and savings.
This year, my daughter’s first grade school supply list came home with her final kindergarten report card on the last day of school. At first it seemed depressing to be mentally skipping right over summer, but I’ve come to appreciate the notice I have to buy supplies for September. Here’s what my daughter needs to bring with her on the first day:
And here’s my school supply shopping strategy for saving as much as possible this year:
- Reuse. While some things are used up completely or take such a beating they can’t be reused, it pays to give everything a once-over to determine what – if anything – can be. The headphones, art smock, scissors, and one of the plastic folders on this year’s list are all items I bought last year, and that my daughter can reuse this year.
- Raid my stash. A few years, ago, I first learned about the insane back-to-school deals stores like Staples and Target offer on some items every year. I started stocking up when things were dirt cheap, even if we didn’t need them right away. Now I’ve got pencils, glue sticks, crayons, and notebooks coming out of my ears, and I paid just pennies for all of them!
- Shop the sales!! Any items I’m not able to reuse or find in my stash, will have to be purchased. Because I already have the list, I’ll check the fliers for the things I need every week. When they’re offered for rock-bottom prices, I’ll grab what I need. Because there are still about five weeks before school actually begins, I can spread my spending (and saving!) out over time.
- Use gift cards. I can earn free gift cards for stores like Staples, Target, and Amazon through sites like MyPoints and Swagbucks, and use them to pay for my daughter’s school supplies.
- Use coupons and earn cash back. At this time of year, coupons start appearing for school supplies online and in the newspaper. I clipped several paper coupons on Sunday, and printed an online one from the Target website. There are also some great Cartwheel discounts for additional savings at Target. Some items on my daughter’s list for this year – like zip baggies and tissues – may also be eligible for cash back on sites like SavingStar and Checkout 51.
- Earn cash back for online purchases. I hope I don’t have to, but should I need to purchase anything online, I’ll shop via Ebates, and earn cash back on my purchases.
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