School Supply Shopping – Fall 2013
The most organization-motivated shopping binges of the year are the purchase of school supplies in August and September. It’s so exciting to put fresh, clean boxes of crayons and unsharpened pencils in your cart and you can just feel your thoughts expanding and productivity increasing as you add new, blank notebooks and planners. It’s the time of year that we are convinced we can be more productive if we just have the right supplies.
This year, I purchased a 15% off school supply shopping pass from Staples. I had to pay something like $10 to get the pass but then I received 15% off all of your school supply shopping for about one month. I decided to use the pass for my shopping on our state’s sales tax-free shopping weekend. A double-discount is a good reason to go shopping.
We did some shopping not only for ourselves but also to help out our local school district with their “Stuff the Bus” school supply drive.
When we entered the Staples, we had a list of supplies that we needed for ourselves and figured we would look for the best bargains to give to the public school system. As I was studying the felt-tip pens, my children would come up to me with various finds, like a huge pack of cute mechanical pencils. “We’ll give that one to the kids in school,” I said to some of these impulse buys. (Turns out the school system prefers the classic wooden pencils to the mechanical kind.)
“Oh, do you homeschool too?” the lady next to me said.
We chatted briefly about homeschooling and it turned out that she homeschooled at least one child all the way through high school. She had a wonderful eye for coupons and was showing me all the bargains she had found. (Often you will find that homeschoolers have to be extra frugal because they have made a financial sacrifice to have one parent at home and have to pay for their curriculum and supplies as well.)
As my children and I went through the store, we found pencils and crayons on sale. Crayons were $1 a box for 24 ($0.85 with the shopping pass discount). At first, I thought we would buy one backpack and stuff it with great supplies for a needy child. I picked out a box of 64 Crayola crayons (for $3) which were my favorites as a kid. Then, I was reminded of my charity holiday shopping last year where the organizers suggested that rather than getting really nice things for one child that you get more of the standard stuff to benefit more children. So, the 64 crayons went back and 3 packs of the 24 crayons went into the cart.
We bought a ton of 3-prong folders for the school system because they were on sale for something like $0.15 each before the discount.
“Did you catch the sale on loose leaf paper?” my new homeschooling shopping friend asked as she passed by. “A penny a pack for up to 5 packs.”
We don’t use looseleaf paper generally but at that price, we tossed some into the cart for the school system. College rule or wide rule? We tossed in some of each. (Turns out the school system prefers wide rule generally.)
The school system had art supplies for high school students on their wish list so we picked up a small sketchbook, some drawing pencils and Prismacolor colored pencils. Art supplies can be one of the more expensive school supplies.
After we checked out, it was interesting to see the difference between the school system supplies and the homeschool supplies for us. We spent about the same amount of money on each.
Shopping for the best bargains when it comes to school supplies is a descent into madness. I thought these design-conscious composition notebooks were a fantastic deal for $1 ($0.85 with the discount card) . . .
until I saw the exact same notebooks at Wal-Mart for $0.50.
I thought my 24-pack crayons at $1 a box ($0.85 with the discount) were a great bargain until I saw this display at Toys ‘R Us over Labor Day weekend offering the same crayons for $0.25.
. . and backpacks for as low as $6.
You just can’t win this game. No matter how good a bargain you think you got, there is always a better deal to be had.
But you can pat yourself on the back as a good discount shopper if you picked up at least one “penny deal.” I snagged two this year, the above-mentioned notebook paper and the spiral notebooks below. For both deals, I just got lucky and happened to see them in the store when I was there.
My favorite bargain purchases this year came from the dollar bins at various stores. There were a lot of great finds this year.
As a side note, since I have an artist in residence and because I thought perhaps next year, we would just donate a bunch of art sketchpads to the school system, I went in search of the best art supply bargains.
Target has an inspiring section for Todd Oldham’s “Kid Made Modern” line that has terrific art supplies.
The art paper collection had pads with mixtures of weights of paper appropriate for different types of media (watercolor, sketching, etc.), which was awesome.
Target also offers its own line of sketchpads, affordably priced.
Wal-Mart had some amazing deals.
Last Chance Shopping
If you missed out on all the school supply shopping, you can still pick up some deals now on the clearance racks. It is a good time to look out for deals. Here are a few neat things I picked up last week at Wal-Mart..
What were your favorite school supplies? Did you snag any great bargains this year? Please share in the comments.
*I am not affiliated with any store or product shown above.