July 26, 2006

Works For Me: "Back to School" sales

This is the time of year that most stores are starting to have their "Back to School" sales. This is a great thing for public, private and home schoolers alike, as well as those with preschoolers at home. Even if you don't have any little ones in your home, but have neices, nephews and friends children you regularly buy gifts for, you can do some frugal shopping in advance for gifts to have on hand. Here are some tips on how I "work" these sales.

First, make a list of the things you know you need. Most public and private schools have a list for each grade and the supplies they need. How easy is that? Home schoolers (like me) need to go through all our supplies, clean out, throw out and organize and see what needs replacing (crayons always!). Looking at the ads can help trigger ones memory (oh yeah I totally forgot we need some of those!). Also think about stocking stuffers and/or other gift needs for the coming year. It also helps if you know what these items usually cost. Make a list of the usual prices to keep on hand all year to compare to. For instance, if you know binder paper can be had for ten cents a pack during the back to school sales, you are not going to want to pay $1.99 for a pack of it in February! For a whole dollar you can have ten packs on hand for when you need them.

Second, I watch the Sunday ads for the stores closest to me. Since each store only has a few deep discounted items (loss leaders) each week to get you into their store (in hopes you will also buy many other items "you need" and pay full price), be patient, watch and wait. Don't drive all over town to get this weeks sales items at each and every store.

For instance, I live near a Fred Meyer and a K-Mart. I also go to physical therapy 1-2 times a week near a Target and Office Depot. So, I only watch those ads. Yes, it can be frustrating to see that Office Max has a great price on......, but it is too far away. If I am patient, one of "my" stores is bound to have that same item on sale in one of the remaining sales weeks before school starts.

Third, be sure to compare the items that are on sale at each store. One store may have the 24 pack of Crayola Crayons for $0.50, another for $0.25 and yet another for $0.20. Obviously, twenty cents is the best deal, but if there isn't anything else at that store you need that week and the store that has them for a quarter has several things you need on sale, pay the extra nickle and save yourself the time and gas money and shop at just one store.

Fourth, think about how these great priced items might also make inexpensive gifts or stocking stuffers. With my large family I am always trying to come up with inexpensive stocking stuffers. Usually by December those brand new crayons I gave them in Sept. for the start of school are already broken and ratty. Well, at twenty cents a box, who cares? It is so inexpensive to buy extra packs of crayons during the back to school sales, put them away till Christmas and put a pack with a coloring book (or make your own coloing pages by printing pages off the Internet) to put in their stockings! (side note: do you know how much Crayola Crayons cost in December? That twenty cent box will cost you about $1.99!) This can also make a great gift for any younger children you need to have a gift for.

Things to watch out for: quanity limits and two-for-one, or buy-two-get-one-free offers. I don't usually go for those last ones at all. I'd rather wait and see if those kinds of items will be offered at a reduced price by another store. Those types of offers are usually going to force me into buying more than I need. Case in point: Office Depot had Sharpie Markers sets on a buy-
two-get-one-free offer. Well, the base prices were around $18.00 a set. I was looking at spending $32.00 to get three sets when all I wanted was two of the sets anyway! So, I waited. Another store then had the sets on sale for $8.99 each. So, for $17.98 I could buy the two sets I needed. Big price difference!

And, that is what works for me this week! Check out lots of other Works For Me Wednesday tips at Shannon's Rocks in my Dryer blog!


Anonymous said...

I love back to school sales, I just bought my kids like 10 packs of crayons...lol.....for $.20 each...who cares! LMAO.....great WFMW!!!

The Roaming Southerner said...

This is great...even for us without kids. Perfect for my nephew who is starting "big-boy school" this year.
Thanks for the tip (I don't know when these sales come up anymore).
Great post: I just posted mine!

Unknown said...

Don't you just love those school-supply sales? It's a good thing we home school so our children don't have to compete and have the "latest and greatest".

I enjoy your blog--I have 13 of my own and am a little more active on "One Big Family" at http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/InjoyLife/
I hope you'll drop by. We "Mega" fams sometimes need a little contact with each other!


Anonymous said...

Great tips! My little ones aren't anywhere near school yet but I'm thinking of picking some items up anyway.

BTW, I have 10 sibs! You have given your kids the most wonderful gift possible: siblings!!!!

Unknown said...

Would you believe it--my dear husband received a $30 gift card from Home Depot (a business supply store) for doing a number of dollar's business for his office in the past few months. Well, he told me we could split it--and we took off for the store.

God just had it so planned that we would arrive on the last day of a 3-day school supply sale! I was able to get 3 huge bags of school supplies--pocket folders at .05 a piece (we bought 40), glue sticks at 4 for .50dw (we bought 16), packages of lined paper for .15 (10 of those), boxes of pencils at .25 for 12 (8 of those) and 3-ring binders at .50 (8 of those)--(we used to excess towards a new phone for our kitchen)--and all for FREEE! God is so good to provide again!


Mom of thirteen said...

Had me scratching my head there for a minute. I was trying to figure out when Home Depot started carrying school supplies. LOL! Then it dawned on me you really meant Office Depot. Whew! Here I was thinking I may be missing out over at Home Depot! LOL!

What a blessing and great prices to boot!


Unknown said...

This is a mistake I often make--I keep getting the two mixed-up--hope that gave you a laugh!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads up. I went last night (during our state's sales tax holiday) and bought a big ole tub full of supplies. I got pencil boxes for all 4 of the kiddos (even the 18 month old) She thought she was SO big to be just like the bigger kids. It was adorable (if I do say so myself)

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