It costs a lot to get those back-to-school items.It seems like every big-name store is having a back-to-school sale right now, and for the 43 percent of parents who put off back-to-school shopping until the last minute, it's tempting to hit up the nearest big-box store and call it done. But some places offer better bargains than others, so in an effort to help you keep your costs down (who really wants to spend $500 or more on supplies and clothing?) Yahoo! Shine did a little digging to find out where the bargains are.
Related: Back-to-school trends for 2012-2013: Stainless steel, glitzy accessories, superheroes, and iPads
Toys r Us has a great deal on backpacks -- buy one character-themed bag for $14.99 to $17.99 and get a free lunch kit. But be warned: a more-expensive bag may save you more money in the long run. Lands End, LL Bean, and Jansport all offer lifetime guarantees on their backpacks, which means that if something rips or wears out they'll replace it for free. (If a bargain backpack tears mid-school year, you'll have to buy another at full cost.) Staples is offering $15 to $45 off their higher-end backpacks, so it's worth checking them out now.
If you're looking for school uniforms, head to Target, Old Navy, and Kmart. Their prices for French Toast brand uniform pieces are all great (they have store-brand options as well) and at Kmart you can save an additional 5 percent on new in-store layaway purchases until August 25. Schools in 21 states and in Washington, D.C., require students to wear some sort of uniform, and those specialized outfits rarely go on sale. But right now, boys' and girls' uniform short-sleeve polo shirts are about $6 (down from $10) at Target. Old Navy has a four-pack of pique polos on sale (two white, two dark blue, online only) for just $20, and Boys' pants are just $10 a pair online, down from $14.50. And Kmart has customized their selection to work with different school systems.
(If your kids are growing too quickly for you to stock up on uniforms, just be patient. "If you can't find great prices, just buy what will get you through the first few weeks of school," frugal shopping expert Mir Kamin of Wantnot.net suggests. "Whatever's left over after the rush will be on clearance in short order.")
JC Penney has plenty of great back-to-school clothes for kids who don't need uniforms, but the biggest bargain it's offering this month is free haircuts for kids in kindergarten through 6th grade.
Gadgets are on many kids' wish lists, but for some college students they're a necessity. Apple is offering a back-to-school bargain for college students: If you buy a Mac between now and September 21, you'll get a $100 gift card to use in the App Store or on iTunes. (New iPads get you a $50 gift card.) Bonus: Shop through the Apple Store for Education for special (that is, lower) prices.
Lexar 8GB USB drives to go with that computer are on sale for just $6 each at Target, where you can also find plenty of notebooks, sticky notes, markers, and other supplies for $1 each. If you have tiny kids at home, the savings get bigger: RoseArt brand crayons, markers, and colored pencils are 49 cents per pack or less. At Staples, you can buy notebook paper for pennies (literally, a package of 120 sheets for 1 cent, as long as you have $5 worth of other stuff in your cart).
Some stores are appealing to more than just our pocketbooks. On Saturday, August 11, Sears is offering an extra 15 percent off on back-to-school clothes to people who download a special coupon (at Sears.com/TeamUp); five percent of the money shoppers spend there that day will go to Sears' anti-bullying initiative, Team Up to Stop Bullying.
Copyright © 2012 Yahoo Inc.
Also on Shine:
Women and the back-to-school buying binge
Back-to-School spending: $500 per shopper?
Back-to-school trends for 2012-2013: Stainless steel, glitzy accessories, superheroes, and iPads