What school shopping tips do you have to help me stay within a budget?
Of course everyone's looking for deals these days, so here are some tips for school shopping offered to us from ShopSmart magazine. These tips will appear in the magazine's September 2010 issue:
• Consider swapping. If the search of your desk drawer turns up things you no longer have use for, swap them for things you do need. Call other moms, or go to Swapmamas.com. Click on School & Office to see listings from people who have stuff and people who need stuff.
• Skip taxes. Many states offer tax-free shopping days in August to encourage spending on clothes. You might find information about your state by searching the Internet with your state and "tax holiday 2010." Some states extend the discount to supplies and computers. (Florida's tax free weekend is Aug. 13 to 15 and applies to school supplies, books, clothing and footwear.)
• Buy in bulk. Warehouse clubs are great places to load up, but so are online stores like RaymondGeddes.com and DiscountSchoolSupply.com – just remember that shipping costs can add up if you don't order in bulk.
• Consider refurbs. Whether you need a laptop or your kid needs a fancy graphing calculator, refurbished or opened but unused products can save you hundreds of dollars. Check Amazon.com, Crutchfield.com, Dell.com/outlet, and SonyStyle.com/outlet.
• Be strategic. Shopping the sales at a lot of stores could save you big bucks, but it's a huge waste of time. Instead, search circulars online at YahooCircularCentral.shoplocal.com and SundaySaver.com. Then shop at stores with price-matching policies, such as Staples, Target and Walmart.
• Go to school. Ask whether your child's school has a supply program where you buy one box with everything your kid needs for the year. Staples claims its SchoolKidz program offers savings of 20 to 50 percent.