Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ten Tips for Saving Money During Back to School Season

Hello everyone! 

I'm so happy to be participating in another TwitterMoms blog event.  This one is sponsored by Staples and you can read more about it here.

Now on to the tips.  To be honest with you, I began my school supply shopping in October of LAST year.  So this year I had minimal shopping to do.  With all of the great coupons, I'm already stocking up for next year! 

Tip #1 Watch for all the after Back to School (BTS) sales in October and November to save even more money and to get a BIG jump start on next year.

My kids love to have new clothes to start the year.  My daughter the fashionista that she is and my son, the "cool guy," know that if it ain't on sale, Mommy ain't buying it!  So they are starting checking the mail for coupons and sale items!

Tip #2 Sign up for loyalty club's if your favorite store's have them.  My son likes athletic apparel so I signed up for Bob's and Dick's loyalty cards. When my daughter was wearing Children's Place clothing I joined the Perks club to save money and get extra coupons.

I've gotten so I hate going to the store to find bargains.  It's so much easier to do a search online!  So in order to make it worth my while, I shop through the shopping portals.  This way I'm getting good deals AND getting cash back in most cases.  My favorite portal is Ebates.  The cash back gets deposited right into my paypal account!

Tip #3 Shopping through portals can save you time and money.  I mostly shop through Ebates, but there are other portals like Big Crumbs, Shop at Home, Upromise (money goes towards college savings), and so many others.  Do a search and you'll find many!

Another way I save money is by doing surveys.  How can surveys save me money?  Why because I earn gift certificates in exchange for answering a few questions (well, some of them are long!).  But the gift certificates add up!  I recently cashed in enough points for a $50 Target gift certificate, several $5 Amazon certificates and a HUGE Walmart certificate! So it's worth the time to me!

Tip #4 Participate in surveys and save those gift certificates!!

I love CVS and Target for finding deals!  They have great sales!  But did you also know that Target has special deals where you can earn gift certificates?  I found this out on CouponMom.com!  I started looking at the circulars weekly and taking advantage on deals for stuff that I needed.  The same at CVS, while they don't give gift certificates, they do give Extra Care Bucks if you have their card!  Those babies add up! I've paid for whole orders using ECB's!  Make sure you know the store rules! 

Tip #5 Shop at stores that give "cash back" and/or gift certificates for future trips. In addition to Target and CVS, try Walgreen's, Rite Aid and even your local supermarket!

Along he same lines, Target issues it's own printable coupons that can be USED WITH MANUFACTURER COUPONS!!  This usually doubles the savings you would normally get.  You can check the target.com website and look for coupons.  There are food, clothing and personal care coupons that could really increase your saving!!  Match this up with one of the special deals for the week and you could end up with a "money-maker."  This means you are making money to buy the products!  This week I got two packages of pens for FREE by using this method of shopping combined with a sale!

Tip #6 Use coupons and check to see if the store has their own coupons that you can use to increase savings! Don't forget to check manufacturer's websites and/or email the maker of your favorite product to see if they will send you products or coupons.

Another of my favorite sites is Buy.com.  I've purchased electronics, books and other items from there.  Buy.com is a clearinghouse of sorts and you can save big bucks.  And yes they are available on Ebates (see Tip #3). 

Tip #7 Don't forget to check the clearinghouses like Buy.com and Overstock.com to save money on big ticket electronic items.  Shopping through a portal may net you more savings in the form of cash back!

I'm in a cleaning out mode right now.  I feel like my house is cluttered and I need space to breathe.  I do give some stuff away on Freecycle but I also sell stuff on Craigslist.com.  The money I make on the stuff I sell goes right into a "piggy" bank for unexpected needs throughout the school year! 

Tip #8 Sell what you don't need to make extra cash for the upcoming school year.  Encourage your kids to donate their old toys and tell them you will give them a certain amount towards a school outfit or supplies!

I'm not to proud to shop at thrift stores and/or gift shops.  Especially now since the fashionista is getting more particular about what she wears.  I have saved tons of money shopping this way and who knows, I may be saving clothes from the landfill! 

Tip #9 Shop Thrift stores, consignment shops and second hand stores for great deals on almost new clothes!

My final tip sums up all of the above!

Tip #10 Don't wait until the week before school to shop!!! (I know, I've been there, this way is SO much easier!!).  There are opportunities to save all year round.  Big box office supply stores like Staples offer great deals and rebates all year round!  Check the circulars and buy a little at a time.  Then you can relax while everyone else is running around or standing in LONG lines!

BONUS TIP Check to see if anything you have purchased is eligible for a rebate.  Rebates vary but you can end up getting your whole purchase price back with some! 

Well those are my 10 tips, hope they help!

Disclosure: “I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Staples blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

Love and Blessings!
Margaret