We have reached the half way point in our series where we are helping parents prepare for back to school. In the first post, we focused on what parents need to know before shopping the back to school sales. The second post explains the best stores for shopping the sales. In this installment, we’re going to provide you with some easy tips to save you money.
Here we’ll cover the 8 ways to save money while shopping: the back to school edition.
8 Ways to Save Money While Shopping
All stores this time of year will have sales running for back to school supplies. The only time to shop for school supplies is during a sale, there’s no point in spending extra money for items that you can easily get on sale.
Reminder: Not all stores will have the same discounts so it’s important to do some comparison shopping prior to purchasing items. Be aware of weekly ad’s advertising 50%, 60%, 70% off, etc. because it may sound like a deep discount but depending on the original price it may not be a great price. Always remember to ask yourself, 50% off what price? Don’t be persuaded by a discount amount until you see the original price.
It pays to have store apps installed on your phone. Cartwheel is a great app that allows you to receive additional discounts for all types of items without any effort. It’s available for both Android and iOS. If you don’t have a smartphone you can still utilize the Cartwheel discounts. Create an account online, sign in to your account, add items to your account, and then print out your list of items which will print out with a barcode on the top of the page that allows Target team members to scan it.
What is great about Cartwheel is that you can stack the discounts with sales, gift card offers, manufacturer’s coupons as well as store coupons.
There is a limit of no more than one manufacturer coupon (paper or Cartwheel digital), one Target coupon and one Cartwheel offer can be combined per item. Each Cartwheel offer may be used for up to a maximum of 4 qualifying items per offer per transaction. Limit of one Cartwheel barcode per transaction and 6 Cartwheel barcode transactions per day.
The only downside is that Cartwheel can’t be used if price matching an item.
Walmart’s Savings Catcher is another great way to save money. There are two options on how you can choose to utilize the Savings Catcher. You can scan the barcode on the receipt with the Walmart app which is available on both Andriod and iOS as well as accessing it on the internet.
One of the easiest ways to save money with Walmart is by entering the receipt information online. Once entered, Walmart then compares the prices paid, with local competitors and if they find that a price is cheaper elsewhere they will issue the difference on a Walmart gift card.
A word of caution though, not all items qualify for the program. There are several items excluded. They need to improve this feature since they are doing away with their price matching. (More about that later).
Target is one of the stores that not only issues paper coupons but they also issue coupons through text messages. They make it very easy to for the consumer to save money. If you happen to leave your paper coupon, often found in their weekly ad, at home don’t panic. Target posts signs near the applicable items in the store. The sign has the word, you’ll text to 827-438 and the coupon will be sent to your phone by text message while you shop.
As an example this week if you text CLEAN to 827438 you’ll receive a coupon for $15 off a select household essentials purchase of $50 or more. (The coupon expires on 8/5/17).
Walgreens is another store that issues store coupons not only inside their weekly ad but also in their monthly coupon booklet found in stores.
When you have the opportunity to use the manufacturer coupons, don’t hesitate to do it. Every little bit can help since school supplies can quickly add up. Manufacturer coupons are found in the Sunday paper, but if you don’t get a Sunday paper check online.
Sites such as Coupons.com, RedPlum.com, and Smartsource.com are the most common sites to print out manufacturer coupons. There are limits, you often can print a single coupon 2 times when using these sites.
Using manufacturer coupons in addition to a sale, you can score some great deals!
Sales, coupons and store apps are the more common ways of saving money but there are also rebate apps that earn you some money back also. What’s great about these types of apps is that as long as the item purchased aligns with the item that is listed in the rebate app you can receive money back. You can purchase the item on sale and use other coupons and still earn money back. Simply scan the item and the receipt, press submit and allow time for approval and before you know it you’ll see the money in your account. Some of the more commonly used apps are Ibotta and Checkout51.
There is one store that provides the best rebates. Staples provides easy rebates by providing a Visa debit card. I love that their rebates don’t lock you into reward points that can only be used within the store like Office Max/Depot does. You can use your debit card anywhere Visa is accepted. They allow you 6 months to use the total amount before the card expires.
There are advantages and disadvantages to utilizing store rebates. If you happen to forget about the rebate and it expires you’re out the money. Staples does make it easier because you’re not restricted to only being able to use it with the store itself but anywhere Visa is accepted. Tracking the rebate is also very easy with Staples, just sign into the rebate webpage and you can see if it’s been approved, fulfilled and shipped to your address.
Gift Card Offers
Target is notorious for providing gift cards with purchase opportunities. They run gift card promotions often with beauty products, food, health products, housewares, etc. In fact, they are currently running a promotion for selected healthcare products. When you purchase 4 items from select categories you can receive a $5 gift card. The gift card can’t be used with the current purchase it is only good for future purchases. It’s basically giving you an instant $5 back.
A couple other promotions they’re currently running this week are with coupons. When you use the coupons with qualifying purchases you’ll receive either a $5 or $10 gift card. In the ad this week there are three coupons, two for kids apparel and accessories and one for items in the baby department. BUT if you happen to forget your coupons at home or you don’t receive a Sunday paper then you can easily send a text to 827438 to receive the coupons.
Target Gift Card Offers for the Week of 7/30-8/5
As an example this week if you text KIDS5 or KIDS10 to 827438 you will receive either a coupon for a $5 Target gift card with a $25 or more kids apparel and accessories purchase or a $10 Target gift card with a kids apparel and accessories purchase of $40 or more. You can also text BABY to 827438 to receive a coupon for a $15 Target gift card with a baby purchase of $75 or more.
Not all stores offer price matching so it’s important to know which stores offer it and which stores do not.
Target does price match competitors prices as well as their own online prices. What makes Target unique from other retailers is that they will price match Amazon.com prices. I will say that even though Amazon’s prices are usually unbeatable, back to school discounts are usually not as steep as local retailers.
Staples is well known for their 110% price matching guarantee. This means that not only will they match a competitor’s prices but they will beat them by 10%.
Best Buy offers price matching also, so if you’re looking for a new computer this would be a good time to shop since they also are running back to school sales. They will only price match, local competitors. I will say, from past experiences, they are really great about price matching. The sales associates are extremely willing to help you price match most items.
Office Max/Depot offers price matching.
Bed, Bath & Beyond
Bed, Bath & Beyond offers price matching from direct competitors.
Walmart no longer offers price matching in over 500 stores including all stores around me so don’t count on Walmart to help you out here. They are pushing consumers to utilize their Savings Catcher feature, even if certain items are excluded.
Save, Save & Save Some More
Utilizing the 8 money saving tips will enable you to save some extra money. Mix and match the different tips to best suit your needs. What’s great about the tips is that you can use these tips throughout the year and not just during back to school shopping.
Stay tuned for the final post in the series. It focuses on what items should be on your back to school shopping list.
Comment on your money saving tips that you utilize during back to school shopping. What are some ways that you save a little extra money?