It’s hard to believe that it is that time of year again–the time of year where summer fun starts to fade into a shopping frenzy for back-to-school.  School supply shopping can be frustrating if you wait until the last minute but depressing if you start too early. So what’s a mom to do? Here are some ways to not only save money, but also save your sanity while shopping for school supplies.

Tip #1 – Beware of Discount Stores

Buying all of your school supplies at the dollar store sounds like the ultimate bargain, right?  I mean, everything is only $1–you can’t beat that! Actually, you can. After Independence Day, all the “big box” stores start putting out their lovely back-to-school displays, and that means that they start running weekly sales on all of their school supplies.  At the dollar store you can buy a 24 pack of crayons for $1. At Target, during their school supply sales, you can pick up a 24 pack of Crayola crayons for around 50 cents. Sometimes, during peak buying season, you can see them for 25 cents. Folders during these sales can be bought for 15-20 cents a piece.  So, buying everything for a dollar isn’t always the best deal. If you play your cards right and shop all of the sales, you will drastically save more money than buying at the dollar store.

Tip #2 – Check Out The Grocery Store

If you buy your groceries at Walmart, this probably won’t apply to you as much, but if you use a traditional grocery store, check out their school supply section.  Sure, they won’t have as big of a selection as the other stores, but they still run great school supply sales just like Walmart or Target. People often overlook regular grocery stores for school items, but you can often find their sales to be better than the bigger stores.  It’s just a bonus that you can pick up your school supplies while you do grocery shopping–so it’s a one-stop shop!

Tip #3 – Don’t Shop At Peak Times

Here in Alabama, we all know that late summer tradition of “Tax Free Weekend”.  You know, the three days that send chills down the spines of retail workers all over the state.  Yes, for one weekend only, all school supplies, clothing and select electronics are free of tax! That means that everyone is shopping for the same items on the same weekend resulting in chaos of Black Friday proportions.  If you get stressed out easily by the thought of getting your kids ready for going back to school, DO NOT shop on this weekend. It’s totally worth paying the extra 9 cents on the dollar to keep your blood pressure at a normal level.  Instead, shop at abnormal times like early in the morning, later in the evening or during the week. There won’t be as many people, and you will have your pick of the merchandise.

Back-to-school shopping doesn’t have to be stressful.  Just stick to these three tips and you will get everything you need without breaking the bank or you sanity.

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