Save money and help a teacher with back-to-school deals

07/19/2014 1:14 PM

07/19/2014 1:16 PM

The back-to-school shopping season – with penny, nickel and quarter deals splashed across the fronts of store circulars – has officially begun.

Taking advantage of those bargains is a summer tradition for penny-pinching parents.

But why not take it a step further this year and pick up a few extras for a schoolteacher?

The prices are so low, and the need is great.

Here are a few ideas on how to help yourself to the best of the back-to-school deals and help a teacher out at the same time.

(And while you’re at it, nominate a Triangle teacher for a chance to win a collection of school supplies I will be collecting on my own bargain-hunting trips over the next several weeks. Details are in the box beside this post.)

• Look at the store advertisements with a fresh eye. If you have a high school student, as I do, you may have previously overlooked the 25-cent packs of crayons and blunt scissors. Or, if you’re at the other end of the spectrum and are just starting out with a kindergartner, you might ordinarily skip the 10-cent sale on filler paper. Go ahead and buy them to donate.
• No kids? Don’t let your lack of a personal connection to a teacher stop you. Find a school near home or work, and deliver your bargains to the school secretary in the front office.
• For folks who don’t have a lot of extra money to spare, this is your chance to help others. Even a couple of dollars goes a long way when the prices on supplies start at a penny apiece.
• Look for deals in unusual places. The office-supply and big-box stores aren’t the only retailers who offer yard-sale prices on school supplies this time of year. The grocery stores often get into the act to reel in foot traffic. (Through Tuesday, for example, Kroger has spiral notebooks for 19 cents, and 100-count packs of index cards are just 47 cents.)
• Check for coupons. Most of the school supply deals are so low you don’t need coupons. But some manufacturers will release coupons on pens, markers and notebooks making select items completely free or nearly so.
• Don’t forget the tissues. Pencils and paper are always good donations, but teachers need tissues, hand sanitizer and soap, too. Sales and coupons on these items are plentiful, so there’s no need to pay full price. (Through Tuesday, for example, Harris Teeter has boxes of Angel Soft tissue on sale for $1. Use the 50-cent coupon from the July 13 paper, and you’ve got yourself a box of free tissues when the coupon doubles.)
• Need help finding the back-to-school deals? I’m here to make things easier. Through September – or until the deals dry up – I’ll be compiling a list of the best (and cheapest) school supply deals offered for the week. You can find them every Sunday morning at newsobserver.com/saver with updates throughout the week as I spot new deals.

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