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Shopping for school supplies like a pro

Posted at 4:34 PM, Aug 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-01 20:45:27-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Back to school shopping can be stressful, especially if you're on a tight budget.

Nicole McDonald is a mom of three, and an expert at saving money. She said the first thing you should do is set a budget for back to school shopping, then take inventory of what you already have.

“Maybe last year's backpack will last another year,” McDonald said. “Maybe you can have it hold out a couple of months until those backpacks go on clearance at some of the big box stores.”

But don't wait, once you get that supply list from the teacher.

“Always stock up in August,” McDonald said. “And buy what you anticipate you’ll need through the entire year. These are the best prices you'll find on school supplies any time of year.”

She said it pays to shop around; McDonald highlights the best prices each week on her blog “Mom Saves Money.”

“One of the better places to shop for back to school supplies is Menards this week,” McDonald said. “It seems very strange. If you use their rebate program, it comes as store credit but if you shop at Menards, no big deal.”

This week, Menards has free pens and $5 backpacks after rebates.

“I think you could easily get everything on their list for the younger kids for under $20, if you shop really smart,” McDonald said. “For the older kids it might be a little more because they have some of the higher priced items like the calculators.”

It added up to a little bit more for us. We went shopping with this list for third grade at Manchester Elementary:
1 Plastic school box
6 Glue sticks
3 Tissue boxes
1 Box crayons 24ct
36 Pencils
1 Pink eraser
4 Dry erase markers
1 Felt dry eraser
1 Pack markers
1 Pack colored pencils 12 ct
4 Highlighters
1 Scissors
4 Folders
1 Ruler
3 Notebooks
2 Composition books
2 Packs filler paper
1 Headphones (on the ear)

At Menards all of this added up to $34.81, Target $40.76, Walmart $52.13, Educational Products Inc. school pack $81.

McDonald said to keep an eye out for coupons from the department stores when clothing shopping. She said she waits to shop until she finds a $10 off/$25 purchase coupon.

If you can wait until September for clothes, she said there will be some good thrift sales happening; her tip is to shop the last day or two of the thrift sale when everything is an extra half off.

Friday and Saturday is Iowa’s Sales Tax Holiday which means you don’t have to pay sales tax on clothing and shoes with a price tag under $100.

McDonald recommends shopping for shoes at the outlets. And she said if you can wait until September for clothes there will be some good thrift sales happening; her tip is to shop the last day or two of the thrift sale when everything is an extra half off.