Back-to-school shopping primer: Your strategy to save

Back-to-school shopping primer

Comparison shop: Just about every store you step into will have a sale going on this weekend. But, you can maximize those savings by looking for printable or mobile coupons and by using search engines to do some comparison shopping. There’s no way you can remember exactly who had the lowest price on the cute pair of shoes your daughter wanted or the must-have plaid shirt your son has been begging for. Price Grabber through eDeals allows you to compare prices from store to store. lets you know instantly if a price drops on a product.

Yowza!! uses GPS technology on your iPhone to help you find the best online coupons for stores in your area. With the RedLaser application, you can video scan a bar code to compare prices on products.

Use coupons: Why pay full price when you can use coupons for online and in-store shopping. You can save hundreds on back-to-school shopping this way. Among the most popular:, and may find printable coupons on these sites as well.

Do an inventory check: Before you go out and buy a bunch of school supplies, check around the house to see if you already have the items. For instance, you probably have plenty of pencils, pens and crayons still around. There may even be notebooks still in good condition, a sturdy enough backpack and other items that don’t need to be restocked.

Check the list: Most students will get a list of required school supplies for the year. Teachers will tell you that it’s best that you stick to the list. If your child needs No. 2 pencils, go with basic pencils. While the children will beg for SpiderMan accessories and other characters on folders and pencils, sticking with the basics will save you money.

Stick to a budget: Want to avoid impulse purchases? Come up with a back-to-school shopping budget and stay within your budget.

What will be your back-to-school shopping strategy? What’s your budget?

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25 comments Add your comment


July 30th, 2010
1:42 pm

Recycle the stuff from last year. I mean, how many bookbags can you buy? Certain items, like rulers, protractors, pencil cases, compasses should not have to be bought every year.

Jack Booted Thug

July 30th, 2010
2:06 pm

I send my kid to school with nothing. I know the teachers will feel bad and scrounge from your kids supplies, hence, my school supples are free!!


Poor Teacher

July 30th, 2010
2:22 pm

You have no idea how much of our own money we spend on supplies and stuff for our classroom. Please be respectful! Let us help provide for people who actually need it.

High School Teacher

July 30th, 2010
7:36 pm

over $200 dollars for just basic school supplies. Throw in an additional $150 for books and other text/audio resources for my AP kids.

Jack Booted Thug: you are a moron and the one of the problems with education today. If you truly do need school supplies there are hundreds of programs that help “truly” needy kids with supplies. Do your research and become a part of the solution.


July 30th, 2010
7:52 pm

The one school supply I REFUSE to buy is hand sanitizer! I teach my children to use soap & water & that’s what I expect them to use at school. I bet the teachers don’t come in from the playground & get a pump of hand sanitizer & then eat lunch. There are no excuses when schools have running water. PLEASE I don’t want to hear the tired excuse “it’s quicker ” or “it’s just as good”. Nothing is as good as soap & water. Nothing.

The Coupon Diva

July 30th, 2010
7:54 pm


I have a list of school supplies under $1.00 I make a new list every week :


July 30th, 2010
8:48 pm

I know Jack Booted Thug doesn’t really do that, he is too literate to really have that kind of mentality. Good point, however, there are a number of parents that do that, but then again they are the same ones that use food stamps and get a welfare check but somehow can drive Escalades. Yep, I’ve seen them, they couldn’t afford a low cost car seat provided by the health clinic to put inside their car. Oh, and it had a 1G upgrade to the wheels. Those same parents cry broke when having to send in $5 for a school field trip. Meanwhile, we scrimp and save to provide for our kids, and buy what’s on the list. Whatever.


July 30th, 2010
9:34 pm

@ JesusFreak,

This is a school blog so I will keep it short. When “those people” got in/out of their Caddies did you question them? How do you know they get food stamps & a “welfare check” (no such thing BTW it’s TANF & like the name implies is TEMPORARY) Did you ask who the owner of the car is?
Is the teacher telling you which parents are sending in money & which aren’t?

You really shouldn’t be so judgmental.

Deb Satchell

July 30th, 2010
11:32 pm

There are lots of deals that can be found online. I prefer browsing online retailer sites versus going inside a store. Back To School Deals


July 31st, 2010
6:00 am

Do not but the pre-packaged kits from the schools. I spent $20.00 for a first grader and the package from the school costs $47.00.


July 31st, 2010
7:38 am

By watching the sales all summer, I never spent more than $10-15 for each of my elementary school kids, and I bought everything on the teachers’ lists. (I even bought the things I disagreed with; who wants to be labeled a trouble-maker on the first day of school!?)

About field trips … parents should add a separate line item for school expenses on their budgets. (Maybe $5-10 per month.) My kids would never get to go to most of those places without the group discounts, bus transportation, and chaperones.


July 31st, 2010
7:40 am

Side note — a friend was trying the iPhone bar code scanner in my kitchen but nothing was coming up. That’s because about 75% of my packaged foods was generic!! :)


July 31st, 2010
6:41 pm

meagain ….I know that the soap in GCPS schools is being diluted with water…..Not sure how germ free those hands will be….IF they even wash in the bathroom! You can be sure that the kids will use the hand sanitizer on the way out the door to lunch. Doesn’t hurt to keep from spreading germs…..Just sayin’……


July 31st, 2010
11:00 pm

And the water in the kids bathrooms in Gwinnett are only cold and not paper towels – just air dryers. Who wants to wash their hands in the dead of winter with only cold water? I for one use my hand sanitizer right before and after lunch, after picking up student’s trash and many more times a day – but no the kids sanitizer – my good smelling stuff from Bath and Body Works!


July 31st, 2010
11:01 pm

sorry for typos….already took contacts out after working on my school website/page all night!


July 31st, 2010
11:04 pm

Soap diluted with water is still soap. It still cleans your hands and still remains the best way to be clean. Also, I know this sounds crazy but hand sanitizer can actually make you sick because when you use antibacterials on your body, you’re also killing off the good bacteria that naturally fights the baddies. Please educate yourselves because as humans, we have natural ways of fighting off sickness and the more we introduce antibacterials and antimicrobials, the more we kill off our bodies own defenses…..Just sayin’…..


August 1st, 2010
7:28 am

@meagain – the teachers I see at my school; one of the largest elementary school in in Gwinnett
Cty absolutely use the hand sanitizer. If their schedule is such that they come in from the playground straight to lunch, students do not enter the cafeteria before using sanitizer. If students are coming straight from the classroom, the kids line up, one person has the sanitizer bottle and everyone gets the opportunity to clean hands. Not all classrooms have a sink with soap and water. Enough about that. We use backpacks a couple of years along with lunch bags, scissors etc. Cheap pencils are not so great. They do not sharpen well so they get wasted. Spend a very $$ on good pencils. Once the back to school buzz is over and prices drop, I stock up for the mid-year requests and for the next fall. This year I have decided to not to purchase all the items on the requested list. I will keep supplies at home rather than in a “community” supply in the child’s classroom. Each child goes to school with items specific to her, folders, notebooks, a limited amount of small items (crayons, pencils 1-bottle of glue not 4) labeled with her name. I will replenish when said child says she is out of something or needs an item for a new project. Too many supplies are wasted by kids who see excess in the classroom. Teachers don’t have the space for all of it at once. Some teachers have tons of leftovers from years of teaching. I suggest asking at registration what the teacher really needs before sending that ream of copy paper. She may have an abundance already. Just my opinion.


August 1st, 2010
8:48 am


No, no, no. Nice try, but no.

Anti-bacterial soaps with widespread usage can cause anti-bacterial resistant bacteria to thrive and develop into bigger “super-bugs”. But there is no “helpful” bacteria on your skin that you need to keep. There may be some “good’ bacteria on your skin, but it is merely coincidental. The “bad” bacteria isn’t being killed by the “good” bacteria just sitting on your hands. That occurs in your stomach and intestines.

The use of hand sanitizers is literally, scientifically, medically, as good as soap and water.

And in fact, it’s better than using cold water to wash your hands. Some studies have shown that using cold water when washing your hands is not nearly as effective as warm water or hand sanitizers. The school that is too cheap to deliver hot water to the sinks isn’t doing their students any favors.

Iris M. Gross

August 1st, 2010
1:24 pm

Soap cleans better than sanitizer. God, this is why people homeschool!


August 1st, 2010
7:11 pm

I can tell you that the best way to buy school supplies is to stick to the basics. Paper, pencils, crayons, scissors and a pencil BAG w/ zipper. The teacher will need many of the “hygenic” supplies later in the year when the seasons change. Keep those and EXTRA basics at home for later use during the year. It is really tough to supply kids toward the end and the supplies are cheaper now.
Get ready for complaints, but well worth it in the end.

Teacher in Gwinnett

August 2nd, 2010
7:22 am

@ meagain…What do you do when the school doesn’t refill the soap in the bathrooms? Or the not-so-great students pull the soap off the walls, empty it into the toilet and flush the toilets so it bubbles over? Soap might be better, but hand sanitizer is better than NOTHING.

Teachers have a reason for everything they request, even if you do not understand their reasoning. Just buy it and leave it alone. I spend hundreds of dollars every year on supplies from my own paycheck, and I ask each parent to spend about $5-10 a year on supplies in my classroom to help out. It’s a pretty good deal for parents.

Jack Booted Thug

August 2nd, 2010
8:18 am

All the women are up in a tizzy over soap vs hand sanitizer. LMAO…no wonder this nation is off its rocker.

“Aunty M Aunty M its a storm in a teacup”

Jack Booted Thug

August 2nd, 2010
8:26 am

Teacher…I remember that…kicking the soap dispensers and toilet roll hangers off the walls/stalls! What great fun.

Or stuff the drain with paper towels, turn on the water and walk out.

Ahhh, sweet memories.


August 2nd, 2010
8:43 pm

Good day folks I am a RN and yes warm soap and water is best. You can use hand sanitizer but after five uses go to the sink and get to rubbing!!!!

Thanks and have a good day!!

Brandice A. RN,BSN


August 4th, 2010
3:35 am

I don’t agree with teachers asking for supplies such as DRY ERASE MARKERS!! I don’t understand why I am asked to help supply them with supplies that the school systems should be purchasing. We all know good and well that our kids won’t be using those markers! I am an educator who was laid off this year and I am not willing to spend money to buy these things because the school systems have mis-managed funds and can’t afford the basics for teachers. Get rid of all the lofty positions in these central offices and then there might be money for teacher supplies.