Local residents find ways to save when shopping for back-to-school supplies

August 04, 2013|By KAREN MAWDSLEY |
By Chad Trovinger/Graphic Designer

You might be buying a calculator, but you don’t need one to know that the cost of back-to-school shopping adds up.

But there are ways to save when shopping for school supplies, as local residents have found out.

Strategies include using coupons and rebates, comparing prices, hitting sales and buying in bulk. You can even go with a friend and split the supplies and the cost.

With the first day of school less than a month away, area residents have already begun shopping for notebooks, folders, backpacks and the other supplies their children will need in the classroom. Some offered their tips and tricks for back-to-school shopping.

Rhonda Welch of Waynesboro, Pa., sifted through aisles of school necessities at Staples on Wesel Boulevard near the end of July. The 37-year-old mother was looking for pens, pencils, paper — the works — for her 5-year-old.

She said she usually comparison shops and goes to multiple stores to find the cheapest items.

“You’ve got to hit it at the right time,” Welch said of the stores. “You just look in the sale fliers.”

Melissa Burkholder knows the routine; she has youngsters going into fifth and seventh grades when classes resume, so she’s been through the back-to-school routine before.

The Waynesboro, Pa., resident mentioned the importance of “scouring different sale fliers.”

Burkholder, 40, said she thinks going to places that offer price matching is a good strategy for saving money.

One day last week, she and her children were at Target, adding notebooks, folders and decorative pencil cases to their cart.

Sherrie Josenhans, 32, of Falling Waters, W.Va., also was at Target last week shopping with her children, who are entering first and third grades. Her daughter stood at her side, a new backpack in one hand and a gallon of milk in the other.

“I compare prices, try to find coupons,” Josenhans said.

Hagerstown resident Lisa Mathers, 33, acknowledged she is already an expert on school savings, even though her daughter is just entering first grade. She said she does “extreme couponing” and has helped a lot of families over the years.

“People that don’t coupon should pay attention to small-box stores,” which she described as good places to save money on school supplies.

Mathers suggested checking out stores such as Rite Aid, Staples and CVS.

She recommended using coupons and rebates, noting that at Rite Aid, she recently found a deal that offered 99 cents back in rewards if you bought any three back-to-school items for 99 cents total.

“So they’re essentially free,” Mathers said.

She also mentioned Staples’ “Penny Days” and suggested calling companies directly to request coupons.

“Call Mead, Call Scholastic,” she said. “You get better coupons when you call directly. They give you the best value.”

School supplies information

• Some retail establishments carrying school supplies provide school-supply lists for area schools. Lists can be found on the Washington County Public Schools website.

• Washington County residents struggling to afford school supplies can visit Children in Need — a Washington County organization that strives to provide children with “the necessities needed for learning” — at

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