Laura Oliver lives in Chesapeake, VA with her cat Bella. She helps her readers save big at www.afrugalchick.com
In 2013 the average American household spent $577 on Back to School Items on an elementary school student. High School students were over $1200 (source).
Most families in Hampton Roads don't have a spare $500 lying around for pencils, erasers and new tennis shoes. Saving money on Back To School shopping doesn't have to be a complicated process. The stores are having great sales, trying to lure you in to spend. Here are 5 Tips for Saving Money on School Supplies in Hampton Roads:
1. Don't wait! In Hampton Roads we tend to put off back to school shopping because our schools don't begin until after Labor Day. But with the rest of the country beginning as early as the middle of August (and some colleges even before that) the big national chains aren't going to wait until September to do their deepest discounts. The best strategy is to shop all summer and just pick up a few items at a time.
2. Don't forget the Office Supply Stores- OfficeMax, Office Depot and Staples will often have the best back to school deals. Each week they generally have 4 or 5 items at a significant discount (say under $.25). By stopping in and grabbing just those small items each week you can get up to 75% off supplies. They also often have great deals on laptops, graphing calculators and other more expensive electronic items. Additionally each of these stores has their own loyalty program that can save you even more.
3. Use Coupons!- Many of the big name office supply companies (BIC, 3M etc) will release coupons for their products. By combining these with sales the stores are already having you can often pick up items for practically free. Smart phone apps such as Ibotta and Checkout 51 will also allow you to get electronic rebates. Check out local coupon sites like A Frugal Chick who specialize in Back to School Sales. She also has a Back To School Supplies List that can help you know what you should be paying.
4. Get It Tax Free- August 1st through the 3rd is Tax Free Back To School shopping in Virginia. During this three-day period, purchases of certain school supplies, clothing and footwear will be exempt from the Virginia sales tax. Each eligible school supply item must be priced at $20 or less, and each eligible article of clothing and footwear must be priced at $100 or less. While the school supply deals may not be too significant this is a great chance to stock up on clothing, shoes and accessories.
5. Buy A Few Extra For Home and Restocking- Every year when school supplies go on sale I also grab a few extra bags of pens and pencils as well as some notebooks and printer paper to throw in my drawers at the house. That way when I run out I already have purchased those supplies deeply discounted and don't have to pay full price. With a little bit of planning and some smart shopping you can keep your hard earned cash in your pocket and your kids will look like you spent a million bucks!
Bonus Tip: Check out the local Children's Consignment Sales for even more opportunities to save on children's clothing, toys, and gear!