My Secrets for Shopping Back to School Sales

Well - ready or not the stores are saying it is Back to School time.  I don't know about you but I love school supplies.  What makes school supplies even better is being able to get them at a fraction of the price.  Here are some of my tips and tricks for scoring great school supplies.

1.  Start Early
Since I have been following school supply sales, I have noticed that the first weekend in July is when the sales start happening.  I know, for many that seems really early.  But I have also realized from all my blog stalking that many of you go back August 1 - which is just around the corner.  Whether you start back in August or September, the stores are ready to slash prices on school supplies now - so start early!

2.  Sign-up
Many stores have a Teacher Program that you can sign-up for.  You will probably need your teacher ID or a paystub as verification when you sign-up.  This program does 2 things for me.  First, it identifies me as a teacher.  Why is that important?  At many of the stores I shop for school supplies teachers have a different limit than what is listed in the advertisement flyer.  Just ask a sales clerk about the limit for teachers.  Many times the limit is 20 or 25 which makes it easy to stock-up on a class set of something.  Second, these programs usually keep track of your sales and send rewards out.  My program of choice is the Office Max - Max Perks program.  Office Max is the closest store to my house so when I need something this is usually where I run to.  I also think their rewards are some of the best ($10 reward coupon for every $75 spent, plus $2 for every recycled ink cartridge).  It adds up quickly that's for sure.  Last year I actually received the yearly limit of $200 in rewards!  Please don't add that up to see how much I spent at Office Max! 

3.  Check in Often
Once July hits, I start checking my favorite stores ads weekly.  Every week the promotion items change.  If you get the newspaper then just browse through the weekly ads to see if there is anything you need for your classroom.  If you don't get the newspaper you can check them out online.  These are some of my "go-to" stores for school supply shopping.  Click on the picture to see what's on sale! Make sure to check/change the zip code to get your local deals!

4.  Stick to the Sales
I know that it is hard to go in and only grab the items that are on sale when that beautiful new notebook is calling you name from across the store.  But, its always my luck that if I buy it this week on impulse, I will find it on sale in a week or 2.  If something you are really wanting isn't on sale right before school starts or when you need it then buy it then.  But practice self-control in July and be patient.  It just might come your way for a fraction of the price!

5.  Think Outside the Box
It's not just office supply stores or "everything" stores like Wal-Mart and Target that carry school supplies.  Think outside the box and check out places like Walgreens, CVS, Michaels, and Hobby Lobby too!  They will all have back to school promotions.

Here are some things I wait for every year - but no promise they will have it this year:
*Office Max Backpack Sale - Get 100% of cost of backpack back in rewards
*Composition Books - Office Max will cut them in half for you if you ask which makes them the perfect size for many activities.  I used them for math notebooks and poetry notebooks.
*Pocket Folders - I like to stock up on class sets in the same color

I hope that those little tips will help you score some great school supplies this year.  Check back because each week I will highlight what I think are some of the best deals of the week.  So to get started here they are for this week:

The 1 cent deals (folders and glue) good when you buy $5.
Last year, the store gave teachers the increased limit on these items
so I could get more for 1 cent.  If you don't have $5 in things you
need right now it's OK - folders and glue will likely be on sale
quite a bit.  There are 2 good deals on paper - each gives you most
of the purchase price back as a reward.  Also note the $5 coupon
when you spend $25 in school/office supplies.

Two AMAZING coupons here for Office Max.
4 count of Expo Dry Erase Markers for $1.  Amazing!
12 count box of Sharpies for $1.  SUPER Amazing!
1 cent desk calendar with purchase price given back in rewards.

These three 1 cent deals are good with a $5 purchase at Staples.
14 for $1 for foam paint brushes and those photo boxes are Super Cute!
I think they would make some great storage for centers,
manipulatives or school supplies. 

I've had my eye on this colorful 10 drawer storage cart for
a while.  I will definitely have to go check out the price.
My buy list for this will include Sharpies and Expo Markers for sure!  If I get to the $5 mark then I will grab some folders and glue!  Staples is quite a drive for me so I won't be heading there this week - but for the right deal I have been known to go multiple times a week!  Will have to make a stop by Michaels too to look at the storage cart!  40% off is great - but if I can combine that with the 15% that teachers get any time just by showing their ID then I just might have a great deal!

Are you looking for something particular?  I'd be glad to help you watch!  Just leave me a comment and let me know.  Do you have any tips for getting some great deals on school supplies?  I'd love to for you to share them.