Back to school clothes, supplies can be less expensive than you think


Parents will spend almost $670 to get one child ready for school this year, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey. But I think a frugal parent can do it for half that much by sticking to a back-to-school savings strategy and being proactive with sales.

Although school has already started in some Kentucky counties, these tips can apply any time you’re shopping for your kids.

My first suggestion is that before you go shopping for your kids for new clothes, spend a day going through your kid’s closets and drawers. Have them try on clothing that you might think won’t fit. Make sure you have a big bag handy for items that can be donated to charity.

Make a list before you go shopping so you have an idea of exactly what is needed. I suggest you get your child involved in the shopping experience by teaching them how to budget with an envelope system. Get an envelope, write your child’s name on the outside, and then put the cash you have allotted for that child into the envelope. Tell them that this is what he or she gets to spend.

This is a good way for them to decide what they actually need for school and learn how much things cost.

The beginning of the school year is a great time to save on extra school items because so much is on sale. Some notebooks are just 10 cents, pencils, pens and other supplies are really inexpensive right now, too. I will guarantee you that before the middle of the year your child is going to need more supplies of some sort. And remember your child’s teachers. They can always can use extra supplies.

Savings on school supplies

Office Depot/OfficeMax offers a price match guarantee. The store’s policy states it will match the price on a new identical item sold by any retailer that sells products in both retail stores and online under the same brand name including items that are sold and shipped by

And the store will match the competitors’ point-of-sale price after deducting their instant savings/rebates and coupons.

You need to provide a printed advertisement, printed in-store signage, receipt of item purchased, picture of in-store signage or online offer from mobile device to get the matched price. If you already made your purchase at an Office Depot/OfficeMax, just show the lower price within 14 days of your Office Depot or OfficeMax purchase and they will refund you the difference.

Check out the policy at

Here is a deal for 19 school supplies items for just around $5: Buy three Office Depot Brand Filler Paper for one cent (limit three); buy three Scholastic Brand Glue Sticks four packs for 25 cents (limit 3); buy three Sharpie Single Permanent Markers for 25 cents (limit 3); buy three Really Useful Boxes for 25 cents (limit 3); buy three Office Depot Brand Poly Cover Notebooks for 25 cents (limit 3); buy two Office Depot Brand Tank Highlighters for 50 cents each (limit 3); and buy two Paper Mate Sharpwriter mechanical pencils in a six-pack for 50 cents each (limit 3). That equals a total of $5.03.

Right now, Office Depot/OfficeMax is offering up to $2 off any binder purchase when you bring in any brand of your older binder. Here’s what you need to do: Bring in your old binders to any Office Depot/OfficeMax store. Keep in mind, only six per household.

After you shop, take your old binders to the register along with the new binders you pick out to receive a $2 credit. Note that the recycling and purchase must be made in the same day and in one transaction and multipacks of binders count as one. The discount is applied only to purchased binders, and there is no cash back. The used binders must be empty upon turning in and the discount does not include tax.

Staples is offering 10 items for less than $5 this week by taking advantage of sales and price matching. Here’s what the store is offering: Buy up to four Staples One-Subject Notebook for 17 cents each (limit 30) ; buy one Westcott 12-inch wood ruler for 25 cents (limit 30); buy one Staples Pink Wedge Erasers three pack for 25 cents (limit five); buy one Staples #2 Mechanical Pencils 12 pack for 75 cents (limit 30); buy one Westcott Kids’ Pointed and Blunt Scissors for 35 cents each when you price match to Office Depot/OfficeMax with 110 percent guarantee; buy one Papermate Erasermate Ballpoint pen five-pack for $1.90 with the price match to Office Depot/OfficeMax with 110 percent guarantee; buy one Pentel R.S.V.P pen five-pack for 75 cents, also with the match to Office Depot/OfficeMax with 110 percent guarantee.

In addition, through Aug. 13, you can get an additional 25 percent off all school supplies whenever you purchase a backpack, and if you are a Staples Rewards Member you will get an additional 2-5 percent cash back on your purchases.

Staples offers a 110 percent price match guarantee. If you find a lower price on a new and identical item, show the Staples cashier or an associate at the customer service desk the lower price when you buy the item at Staples and they will match it plus will discount it by 10 percent of the difference.

And if you purchase an item from Staples and tell them within 14 days that you found that item at a lower price in their stores or online at, they’ll refund the difference. If items will be free or better than free after the 110 percent price match, Staples will only honor a 100 percent price match to the competitor ad. Also, you may be required to purchase a $5 minimum on penny items if you are price matching to Office Depot/Max penny items.

Other back to school savings

CVS: Need a lunch box treat for free? At CVS, black forest organic gummy worms or bears (four ounce) are $1.49. If you buy one, you can receive $1.49 in extracare bucks this week with your CVS extracare program card.

Walgreens: Buy Trolli gummy candy (seven or eight ounce) for $1.50 and get $1.50 in register rewards. Some school supplies are on sale, too, including the Paper Mate Mechanical Pencils five-pack for 49 cents and all Crayola Art Supplies are buy one get one free.

Kroger: The lunchbox deal this week is Horizon Milk Singles on sale for $1. Plus you can load the $1-off-three digital coupon to your Kroger loyalty card making final price when you buy three 67 cents each.

Other savings and free ideas

▪  Plan now to start the new year off right. Register now for the upcoming Home Depot Kids Workshop on Sept. 3. Kids can build a back-to-school white board. The workshops are designed for kids ages 5-12 and are offered at all Home Depot stores between 9 a.m. and noon. Visit:

▪  The American Coal Foundation is offering classroom teachers in grades 3-5 free coal sample kits. Each kit features four different types of coal samples ideally suited for lessons related to rocks and minerals study units and other science curriculum topics.

▪  Arm yourself with the latest information on the benefits of milk at a school with free materials from the Milk Delivers program. You can download or request by mail free fact sheets, flyers, brochures and posters.

▪  Request a free child safe kit today and record your child’s vital statistic and urgent medical information in one convenient, safe place. If your child is reported missing, you will immediately have all the important information about your child ready so authorities can help find them.

▪  American Express will be hosting Small Business Saturday on Nov. 26, the day designated to celebrate small businesses across the country. If you are a small business owner, go to to sign up to be a Neighborhood Champion and you’ll possibly receive a free Small Business Saturday Event Kit around mid-October. These kits contain items like balloons, signage and bags to help you organize events and activities to rally your community.

▪  York Photo will send you an 8×11 custom wall calendar for only $4.99 when you use the promotional code SRCAL. You just pay shipping.

▪  When a grand slam is hit in a major league baseball game you can get 40 percent off any pizza at regular menu price online the day after a grand slam at Enter promotional code PAPASLAM.

▪  At Bob Evans, get $2 off an $8 purchase through Aug. 21. The offer is good after 11 a.m. Plus, you can get a buy one, get one free offer on a breakfast entree when you buy two drinks through Aug. 13. Just print off this coupon or show it to your server on your phone.

▪  Text DIETCOKE to 82743 and get a $1 off coupon for any one Diet Coke. If you have not requested this offer, this is a great week to request your $1 coupon. Diet Coke two liter bottles are only $1.25 this week or one bottle is free when you buy five bottles (Buy five for $5 or $1.25 each). With this offer you can score a bottle for 25 cents if you just want to buy one.

▪  Download the Baskin Robbins mobile app and receive an offer for a free scoop of ice cream as a thank you. Limit one coupon per customer. Valid at participating locations only.

▪  Shutterfly and My Coke Rewards are offering a free 5x7 personalized notepad ($14.99 value) when you sign in or register for My Coke Rewards. Taxes and shipping not included.

▪  Attend a free health screening at Sam’s Club from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 13. The screenings (valued at up to $150) includes glucose, total cholesterol, HDL (good cholesterol), blood pressure and more. All tests are performed by a licensed professional at Sam’s Clubs with a pharmacy. Membership not required. Check with your local Sam’s Club for participation.

Deborah Morris’ every-other-week column, The Fru-Gal, can help you get more for less. Go to her website,