Get the “Lowe” Price on School Supplies

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(Memphis) It seems school supply lists are getting longer and longer.

"Lots of pencils, highlighters, notebooks, paper," says Staples shopper and parent Stephany Frick of a few of the items for which she was shopping.

Her plan was to save as much money as possible, "Trying to cut corners. We're looking for just the basics and bare necessities."

Even teachers have become students of saving this time of year.

"There's a lot of money that comes out of all teachers pockets' this time of the year, so it is nice to find some savings when you can," says 5th grade teacher Cecily Jordan.

Retailers know parents are pinching pennies, so many are offering different deals to get them in the door.

"Every week, there's a different hot deal in the circular that you can come in and get. On top of that, we also offer a back to school savings pass that can save you 15% on anything you purchase when it comes to office supplies and back to school," explained Staples General Manager Shane Ashurst.

Here's a little lesson on getting the most for your money while back to school shopping.

My theory, treat back to school like any other buying experience, that means be a strategic shopper.

First up, inventory what you already have at home.

See what's leftover from last year.

If your kids don't need it, don't buy it. For example, we're keeping a book bag, plus there were leftover supplies like a binder and folders. The same goes for clothes. We like to try them on to see what still fits before shopping for anything new.

Next, scope out the sales ads before you go shopping.

I let some of my favorite bloggers do the work for me. Those include A Few Short Cuts, Deal Seeking Mom and Southern Savers to name a few.

Some will list the best deals of the week, match up coupons with the sales, even categorize by store or item.

That may sound like a lot of work, but you do not have to run from store to store if you take advantage of price matching.

It is crucial to know the store's policy.

"Anybody that sells anything that is comparable to us at the lower cost, we can match the price up to 14 days after your purchase," says Ashurst.

Finally, look for hidden discounts.

Lots of stores have special programs for teachers and college students who show a valid ID.

We took a school supply list for a 3rd grader and shopped at a big box store.

The total was $33.66.

Using the same list and my method, we only spent $15.32.

I did use rebates to get lower prices on some items.

For example, I got index cards for a penny, but had to spend $5 for a minimum purchase.

I purchased pens for $4, but they are free after a $4 rebate (that's submitted online).

I also got a clipboard for $1, which was also on my list and at a cheaper price than at the competitor.

Those pens will be used for my other son's supply list.

My thoughts here, I only use rebates if I can get money back via check or card.

I submit rebates immediately so I do not forget about them.

As for minimum purchases, if there's nothing else you need that's also at a good price, do not bother, because you will spend more in the long run.

Price matching was definitely key.

I priced matched six items on my list.

I also got a couple of free items after using high value coupons.

Another tip is to get extras so you will have additional supplies at home.

Now is also a good time to donate an extra supplies you have to churches or charitable organizations that run back to school drives.

Do not forget to pull out old gift cards that you may have stashed.

That's another good way to make a dent in your total.

If you are shopping on tax free weekend, still have a budget and plan in place!

Check out my shopping list below.

  Big Box Zaneta
Pencils (2) 2.24 1.58
Notebook Paper (2) 1.64 1.38
Crayons 0.25 0.01
Dry Erase 1.97 0.99
Red Pens 0.97 0
Index Cards 0.48 0.01
Book Covers (4) 7.88 4
Scissors 1.47 0.99
Wet Wipes 1.98 1.48
Notebook 0.17 0.17
Kleenex 1.56 0.82
Headphones 2.47 0
Jumbo Glue Stick 1.62 0.39
Paper Towels 0.5 0.5
Folders 0.6 0.36
Plastic Bags 1.76 1
Clipboard 1.44 1
Tab Dividers 0.88 0.39
Binder 3.78 0
Extra OOP 0 0.25
  33.66 15.32