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Back-to-School Shopping and Savings

The economy is showing signs of stabilizing, even improving, according to some analysts and the recent better-than-expected jobs report. But, things are still financially tight at our house and I don’t think we’re the exception. We switched to a cheaper grocery store for 90% of our shopping and significantly cut back on eating out. That’s helped. But, school starts soon and that means new shoes, clothes (uniforms required at our public school), and an enormous list of “required supplies.”

Thankfully, Georgia has a tax-free weekend, which will save us roughly 7% off of what we would otherwise spend. But, that’s not enough for me. I love a good deal and I’m not afraid to coupon to get it. With a little bit of prep work and planning, we can all save more than the sales tax for back-to-school shopping.

These are some of the deals, coupons, and specials I found with a little research:

•Product-specific websites have coupons. If you know you need it, check the website and hit “print” before leaving home. If you don’t have a printer at home, you can print at local libraries (it may cost $.05 to print, but one sheet of paper can hold 3 or more coupons!). For example, Crayola has a designated coupon page that regularly posts for a variety of products.
•There are whole websites with pages and pages of coupons. currently has a coupon for $1 off a ream of paper and regularly coupons for wipes, disposable zippy bags, tissues
•If you know you’re going to do most of your shopping at a particular store, go to that store’s website to check for sales and coupons. and both post the week’s sale paper online and have entire sections devoted to coupons. Kroger’s are digital and automatically load to your Kroger shopping card. also has an app that will send coupons to your smart phone so there is no need for a printer.
Staples’ back-to-school website has a 15% Savings Pass good 6/10/12 – 9/15/12, which means it will be valid during GA’s tax-free weekend. Combining coupons, tax-free weekend, and the 15% Savings Pass has real potential for big savings.
•Check Office Depot for some crazy deals like $.25 composition books and pens. I understand they change these deals pretty regularly and supplies can run out, so check the website to see if what you need is in their specials list.
Wal-Mart has rotating specials, too. Last week, I got two boxes of 24 ct. Crayola brand crayons for $1. Again, check the sale paper or website for what’s currently on sale.

Also, check out your local office supply stores. These folks are your neighbors and know what your students need for school, too. Some local stores may even have a price-match program. (Call ahead to see if yours does.) Having an especially difficult time finding those Kindergarten writing tablets? Check the local places and teacher supply stores. If they’re out, too, they may be more likely to place an order for more than the big box stores.

Even a little planning can give you confidence that you’re getting good deals, saving your hard-earned money and setting your children up with what they need for a productive school year.

If you've found a great deal, share it with your neighbors in the comments below.