Monday, July 11, 2011
School Supply Buying Season Has Arrived
I feel as though summer has just started, but July has rolled around and if you are a fellow frugalist(a), it is time to start watching the Staples and Office Depot advertisements for Back to School Deals. If you prefer not to watch the ads, make sure you are subscribed blogs such as Kosher on a Budget or Cheapskate for school supply alerts and links to coupons. A quick trip twice a month or so through the a big box Office Supply Store starting in July is an integral part of our summer. The kids pick up their inexpensive required supplies. I pick up inexpensive supplies for my own home office. And, I often restock the gift box with gifts and useful, nearly free, party favors.
As a general rule, I dislike shopping. And, stronger than my dislike of shopping is my dislike of shopping with an impending deadline. So, when I do drag everyone out shopping, I like to cover as much ground as possible. This week, I'm restocking certain items like salsa. I found out that our Dollar Tree has $1 jars of salsa, so when I was buying a case, I also had the kids pick out the paper goods for their birthday parties. They all happily pinned down a theme, and I'm happy that I don't have to go back to this store for a good long time to come.
This week, getting to Staples for a quick run through for 1 cent glues and 1 cent pencil cap erasers is a must. My $5 minimum purchase will quickly be met with the purchase of two reams of paper, which will be 25 cents each after I submit for rebate.
If you are a regular office supply store customer (as I am), and will be able to use the rewards because you have to buy paper and ink throughout the year, the big deal to watch for at Staples is their free after rewards backpack deal. That deal usually pops up mid-summer. Each year I try to pick up a backpack for the future. Last year, my oldest picked out a really fantastic, high quality backpack. It still looks brand new and will continue to serve us going into the 2011-2012 school year. Nonetheless, I don't mind having surplus backpack supply because 1) things break when nothing is on sale and 2) I like to have different backpacks prepacked for outings, workouts, diapering, etc.
I plan to get over to Office Depot too. Their rewards program is not nearly as friendly as Staples Rewards Program. But the store is nearby another destination and they are offering 100% rewards on things that do make nice gifts, as well as ridiculously expensive pens that someone I know will much appreciate.
And on a different note: When I've been out shopping during the school supply rush season, I always note that parents are very frustrated by the growing supply list (thankfully our school's supply list is fairly basic and I was please to see most of the supplies were used up). Supply lists should be as general as possible. It is best for parents and students to be able to "shop at home" by picking out suitable supplies from the supply cabinet at home.
And on a final note: There are programs for donating school supplies. If anyone has ever organized a donation program for yeshiva schools, I'd appreciate a guest post on the subject.
My summary of the Staples Rewards Program(s) from a former post. And a few notes:
When heading to Staples, don't forget to put your empty ink cartridges in a bag to recycle for Staples Rewards dollars.
If you are in the market for a printer, watch for the printer recycling program. This is a nice way to knock $50 off the price of a new printer when you recycling an old printer regularly priced at or above $199 (look for a sale on a printer you like). Something to watch for if you aren't too particular, a floor model that has been slashed in price combined with $50 off for recycling your printer. The last time Staples had this deal, there were floor models marked down significantly that would have been almost free with a recycled printer.
If you are in the market for a phone system, consider recycling your old phones. There is a $30 price reduction when you do so.
My summary of the Office Depot WorkLife Rewards Program.