Brand names and your back to school shopping budget

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You guys already know about my love for office supplies.  The fact is, I’m kind of a snob when it comes to pens and paper.  Some store brands miss the mark in terms of quality and durability.  My desk usually contains familiar brand names that are sure to stand up to grading papers.  Here are a few ways you can stick to brand names without compromising your back to school budget.
(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate and referral links. I’ll earn a small commission if you purchase through the links. Opinions shared are mine.) 

Stores want you to be in their doors for your back to school shopping needs, and they will dangle the ballpoint carrot to get you there.  Watch the ads for every store around you, starting in July, to find deals as low as a penny!  You must be swift, my sale warriors.  Limited stock means you can’t wait until Saturday at 8:30 pm to shop… need to snatch the opportunity like Mr. Miyagi.

Make sure your phone is updated with shopping apps so you can maximize the savings.  My favorite store apps are Walmart Savings Catcher and Target’s Cartwheel.  Typically, discounts on brand name items appear on these apps (instead of generic brands).  You can also use coupons with both of these apps, so stack those savings!  Another favorite, ibotta, sometimes offers deals on “any brand” items.

Another way to stretch pennies — buy discounted gift cards for your favorite stores, then use the gift card to buy school supplies.  This takes a little extra effort and a certain amount of risk in case the card doesn’t work; however, the savings can really add up.

Though I love my DollarTree trips for books and plastic bins, it’s not my favorite place to shop for school supplies.  A new store just opened in Kingsport that has all my friends buzzing.  It’s called Five Below, and everything inside IS $5 or below.  I love the bright, navigable layout of the store.  It’s perfect for back to school shopping — from kids to teens to college age — and offers lots of nationally known brands for a fraction of the typical retail price.  I also saw things like beach towels and Coppertone sunscreen for less than $5, B1G1 Powerade, t-shirts, and decor items for dorm rooms.  This would be a great place for a new teacher to find classroom decor items, too!

Will any of these tips help you save money?


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  1. My tip: when you are in a store, always buy the loss leader items that are school supplies. You know there will be a constant need for pencils, paper, crayons, paper, etc. through the entire school year. Why not buy the items when they are at – or below – their actual cost as a loss leader item.

  2. Cathy French says:

    I think going to discount stores is a great tip. How many times have you bought something at the grocery store and overpaid? Doller tree is a great place.

  3. Julie Lundstrom says:

    I will go and shop at Dollar Store for school supplies to help save money.

  4. Natalie says:

    My tip is to shop early in the summer and buy supplies as they go on sale.

  5. Sarah L says:

    No kids. I watch for electronics sales then.
    Thanks for the contest.

  6. rochelle haynes says:

    My tip is to shop by yourself

  7. Cheryl Chervitz says:

    My tip is to go shopping when items are on sale, and we have a day in MO when it is tax free for school supplies.

  8. Heather K says:

    Since I homeschool printer paper is one of my school supplies. I always wait until on of the office supply store has it free with rebate and pick up several reams. Great for drawing paper as well as printing reports and worksheets.

  9. Lasonda says:

    I watch the sales and purchase school supplies when they are deeply discounted.

  10. Cynthia C says:

    I watch for coupons and sales. I like the idea of using discounted gift cards to purchase school supplies.

  11. Cynthia R says:

    I’ve been waiting for $5 off of $25 Dollar General coupon to go buy a stack of school supplies. I buy in $25 though and keep going back.

  12. Kimberly Flickinger says:

    I have no kids, mine are the furry ones. I would look in to the electronics ads.

  13. I wait until everything is super cheap and then stock up for the whole year.

  14. I try and find sales on backpacks!

  15. OMG, I love Five Below! We had one open about a year ago and I find myself making excuses to go there. You can find so many good deals, and they have name brands. I love to buy markers and colored pencils there.

  16. Jeanna Massman says:

    My grandson’s school doesn’t change their supply lists very often so I like to stock up on supplies any time they are on sale throughout the year.

  17. The sales always seem to start the weekend after the 4th of july. Walgreens is also a great place to look for sales on school supplies.

  18. Deborah W. says:

    I try and find heavy-duty binders on sale. I would love to see Mead binders or gift card for their products on a giveaway.

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