Be smart for back-to-school

Published 10:02 pm Tuesday, August 7, 2012

By Dana Zeliff

While you’re relaxing on the beach, visiting water parks and planning last-minute vacations, back-to-school deals are in full swing. Take a break from the sun, and start getting ready for the new school year.

Whether your child is heading off to school for the first time or you’re an old pro, back-to-school shopping can be daunting and expensive. Take a look at these five tips to help you save on school supplies:


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1. Make a list of all the school supplies required for each child and keep it with you. While you’re out shopping, you will always have the supply list on hand.

Take a picture of your child’s school supply list with your phone. You will be able to view your gallery for a quick peek at the list. Also, you can create a list using a notes app on your phone. This is particularly great if you have multiple children. You can combine all the school supply lists into one.

2. Shop early to get the best deals. Right now, stores are advertising specials on school supplies in the weekly sale flyers. The earlier you start shopping and taking advantage of 25-cent crayons and 1-cent folders, the more money you can save.

3. Shop multiple weeks at multiple stores. You can get the most bang for your buck by taking advantage of multiple sale offers. Spread your shopping out over a number of weeks, and use the deals at different stores to increase your savings. However, it is not necessary to shop at every store each week. Pick one or two stores each week with the best deals, and shop at only those stores.

4. Use coupons to lower your out-of-pocket expenses. Crayola, Bic, 3M and Zebra already have started distributing coupons to entice you to purchase their products. Stores may also offer their own coupons to get you into the store.

You can also save money with mobile coupons, such as those from Target Mobile — no printer or ink required. Want to make the coupon value go further? Combine the coupon with a sale to score a great deal.

5. Think outside the pencil box when shopping for back-to-school supplies. You don’t just have to purchase items for the start of school; you can find ways to save throughout the year by taking advantage of current sale items. Consider purchasing items now for:

4Donating supplies to students in need

4Home office

4Kids’ art studio

4Mid-year classroom refills

4Raffle baskets


Dana Zeliff lives in Chesapeake and writes a blog full of money-saving tips, coupons and advice. Visit her blog at