Extreme Couponing Tips for Back-to-School Shopping

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We had an awesome extreme couponing week last week, even if we didn't stick to our budget, (again). It was awesome because we got to take advantage of back-to-school sales and buy office/school supplies, and there's not much we like more than fondling note pads, pencils and glue. What? Why are you looking at me like that. You like it too, admit it!

While we always enjoy back-to-school shopping, this year it's going to be so much more fun because of couponing. Now we'll not only be able to bring home bright colored folders and Sharpies -- we'll be able to do it for free or cheap. Take a look at what we bought on Sunday -- total OOP was $18.97.

school supplies

Our first stop was Target, where we were somewhat foiled by the lack of individual packages of Sharpies. I expected as much, even though the store had been open less than an hour when we arrived. Free Sharpies will always sell quickly. That's OK -- we got a 2-pack of Sharpie highlighters for $.12. And a package of 10 Papermate pens for $.02. We did this by using Target's Internet printable coupons -- and by watching Totally Target, a blog that shares the best buys and the best ways to use those Target Internet printable coupons. All we had to do was print the coupons, take them to the store, and track down the products. (Tip: Look in both the regular school supply area and in the seasonal area of Target. You might also check out the bins right by the entrances to the Target because sometimes those free and cheap items are stocked there, as well.)

Next we went to Staples and were the first customers in the door. Staples had a great sale going on -- lots of items for $0.10 or $0.25 or $0.50 and some good buys for $1, as well. The only requirement was to buy $5 worth of non-sale items in order to get the deal -- and there was a limit of two of each item. Easy since I needed to buy two non-school supply items anyway -- printer ink and a shredder (that was on sale for half price.)

Staples has some other deals to consider: You can buy a Back-to-School Shopping Pass for $10, and using that pass will save you 15% off all of your back-to-school purchases. I passed it up because we won't be buying all of our back-to-school items at Staples and because you can't use that pass with other coupons. And I do plan to be using coupons at Staples.

They also have a computer on sale for a pretty decent price -- and if you show a student ID when you purchase select computers, you'll also get a $100 Visa gift card. I bet we see more of these types of deals over the next few months, so if you're in the market for a new computer or printer, be on the look-out for these deals.

You'll also want to join the rewards programs for the office supply stores in your area, if you haven't already. Staples wasn't the only store to have decent prices on school supplies last weekend. Office Depot and Office Max had some, as well.

Here are some blogs that you should be following if you want to save big during back-to-school season:

  • Fabulessly Frugal has a great school supplies post that includes a long list of products and the prices you'll expect to pay at various stores. She also provides great information about single deals like this Bic coupon with a list of the best deals. I would recommend you watch her entire Back-to-School Deals tag.
  • Saving Well, Spending Less does something similar with her school supply round-up.
  • I Heart the Mart and Totally Target will be your best bet if you shop exclusively at either of those stores. (Walmart price matching could come in handy for the rest of the back-to-school shopping season, and the Target Internet printables and text message coupons that allow you to stack with a manufacturer's coupon will bring you big savings.)

School supplies aren't the only back-to-school items on sale, either. Do your kids need socks? Here's a Fruit of the Loom socks coupon. And again, look for those Target Internet printables -- $2 off jeans: Print and hold until there's a good jeans sale. Or print and go check out the clearance rack.

Consider registering for the newsletter for the stores you plan to buy back-to-school clothes from. They'll usually alert you in advance of big sales -- or just keep watching your favorite coupon bloggers; they'll keep you up to speed on the sales.

And don't forget tax-free shopping days, if your state has them. A lot of stores will offer big sales around those dates.

Share your back to school savings tips -- and any great buys you've found.

~Denise
BlogHer Community Manager
Life. Flow. Fluctuate.

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