Finding the bargain in back to school shopping

I bought all of this for just $2.70!

Most recent update: Wednesday, August 18, 11:20 p.m.

Can somebody please tell me why I can buy a giant plastic tote for $4, and yet a 2″ binder can cost upwards of $7 dollars? My brain is still spinning over that one. So I’m on a quest to find some reasonable (okay – read C.H.E.A.P.) school supplies. I’ll track it here so you can share in the good finds. As possible, I’ll put expiration dates. But I make no guarantees you’ll get the deal….I’m not reading all the fine print. You’re on your own there.

As I shop,

  1. I’m looking for name brands I can trust.
  2. I’m looking for door buster prices.
  3. I’m comparison shopping at several stores, comparing ad prices and in-store specials.
  4. I’m assuming this is going to take more than one day out in the stores.

Here is my kids’ combined school supply list. I’m assuming yours is fairly similar. I’ve only listed the items I’ve found so far. I’ll fill in as I get good deals. If I find a better deal, I’ll update what I have here.

Trust me. I have no qualms about saving receipts and returning items when I find the same or better item cheaper elsewhere.

**Don’t forget. Tax-Free Days are this week from August 20-22.**

    Just in my email: Trailmaker backpacks $5 at H-E-B. Now that’s a doorbuster!

  • #2 pencils .25 for Office Depot brand 12-pack at Office Depot through Aug. 21
  • 24-count crayons .25 for Crayola at H-E-B or .25 for Scholastic brand at Office Depot through Aug. 21
  • colored markers $1 at H-E-B
  • red pens $1.32 for 10 Bic Cristal at H-E-B (who knew red pens were so expensive?)
  • colored pencils .99 for H-E-Buddy 12-count at H-E-B
  • pencil sharpener .50 at Staples through Aug. 21 or .49 cents with coupon at Walgreens through Aug. 21
  • pencil top erasers
  • highlighers $1 for 5-count Bic at H-E-B
  • blue or black ball point pens $1 Paper Mate ballpoint stick pens 36-pack at Office Depot through Aug. 21 (limit 2)
  • scissors $1 for Westcott student scissors at Staples through Aug. 21 and $1 – $1.25 at Big Lots (twice to three times as much for the exact same pair at H-E-B and OfficeMax!) or $1 for Fiskars student scissors at Office Depot through Aug. 21
  • composition books .25 at H-E-B and at Wal*Mart through Aug 21
  • spiral notebooks, 70 pages .01 at Staples through Aug. 21 (limit 6 with a min. purchase of $5) These were actually free after I applied the 20% off coupon in the online weekly ad. If you have a smartphone, don’t bother killing trees, just show them the coupon on your phone.
  • 150-count loose leaf paper .50 at H-E-B
  • graph paper
  • pack of construction paper .99 for 40-count at H-E-B
  • 500-count colored computer paper $5 at Staples through Aug. 21
  • 500-count multipurpose white computer paper $1 at Office Depot through Aug. 21 (limit 2)
  • school planner with calendar
  • 100-count index cards .51 at H-E-B
  • standard ruler .29 at Michael’s
  • white glue .25 for Elmer’s at H-E-B (limit 6) or .20 for H-E-Buddy brand (no limit)
  • glue sticks .25 for 2-pack Elmer’s at H-E-B (limit 6) or .20 for H-E-Buddy brand (no limit)
  • protractor
  • erasers .50 Pentel 3-pack white erasers at Staples through Aug. 21
  • 2″ and 1.5″ three-ring binders about $5.99 per Better Binder if you buy 3 on the buy 3/get 1 free deal at Staples. Not the cheapest, but cheapest for the level of quality. These are really good binders.
  • dividers with 8 tabs .88 at H-E-B
  • 3-ring pencil bag $1 for simple one at Big Lots; $3.49 for multi-pocket, deluxe pouch on clearance shelf (plenty in stock) at Staples
  • zipper supply pouch .05 at Office Depot through Aug. 21
  • pocket folders with brads .15 at H-E-B or 6/$1 with coupon Penway brand at Walgreens through Aug. 21
  • hand sanitizer
  • 200-count tissues
  • Webster’s dictionary $3.25 at Half Price Books (or do what I did and take in some old books, sell them to Half Price and use the proceeds to buy the dictionary and thesaurus. So really, the two cost me nothing. Woot!)
  • thesaurus $2.98 at Half Price Books (free for me!)
  • 1G flash drive $9.99 at Staples or $10 at Wal*Mart for a SansDisk 4G through Aug. 21
  • box 25-count plastic zipper bags $1 at H-E-B

I didn’t need these items, but they might save you some money:

  • Hammermill ream of copy paper .01 with rebate at Staples through Aug. 21 (limit 6)
  • Dry erase markers $1 at Staples through Aug. 21 (limit 2)
  • Sharpie 5-pack $1 at Staples through Aug. 21 (limit 2)
  • 1″ binders at H-E-B .97
  • Staples battery-powered slimline pencil sharpener FREE with rebate at Staples through Aug. 21
  • Three-hole punch that fits in a binder $1 at Office Depot through Aug. 21
  • RoseArt watercolors .50 at Target (the only place so far that I’ve seen watercolors on sale!)

Great ways to find deals on your own:

  • Check the Sunday newspaper inserts
  • If you have a smartphone, check out the apps. My favorite is Shopper for the iPhone. Select the stores you frequent and you can automatically check the weekly flyers while you are standing right there in the store.
  • Go to the store websites direct. You can usually browse the weekly store circular, check out deals and print coupons. Be sure to sign up for email updates to a separate gmail account set up just to receive such offers. That way it doesn’t get mixed up in your regular email. You can get some great email specials only that way.

We’ll be out later today doing some more bargain hunting. Let me know if you are aware of any I haven’t found yet.

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  1. Even if you don’t need the free/near-free stuff…pick it up & donate it to a cause that’s collecting school supplies for kids! ChildSafe in San Antonio is who I’m collecting for!

    • That’s a fabulous idea, Kim! So good, in fact, I wish I had thought of it first!! Thanks for sharing.


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