Back to school bargains

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PHOENIX - As we head into another busy school year, times are tough, so finding back to school bargains is crucial.  With this in mind, I took my own kids back to school shopping and did some research to find out where and how we can save on supplies, clothes and shoes for the kiddos.  Here is what we found:

*Payless Shoes – Go to payless.com and join their email list.  I did two years ago and I receive monthly email coupons for 20% off both online and in-store shopping. 

*Payless/Office Max Bonus – Plus shopping at Payless saved us money on school supplies because our Payless receipt included an Office Max coupon.  This coupon is good for $10 off Office Max merchandise with a minimum purchase of $30. 

*Office Max Deals – I like Office Max because they have an extensive school supply section.  You can find just about everything you need there.  So I used my $10 off coupon from Payless and saved some money on school supplies there.

Plus they have several items that sell for only one cent, so we bought a pencil sharpener and a packet of 25 pencil erasers that were only one penny each.  Unfortunately, there weren’t that many one cent deals to be had, however the employees told me to check back weekly for additional items that will be marked down to one cent. 

*Famous Footwear Deals -   Though mid-September, Famous Footwear is offering buy one pair, get the second pair for half off.  Most of the shoes in the store are included in this discount, but not all styles, so be sure to ask when you arrive which shoes are eligible for the sale.

In addition to receiving the 50% off the second pair I purchased for my daughter, I also had a 20% coupon that I received in the mail from Famous Footwear because I registered for the company’s free loyalty program.  The program gives customers one point for every dollar spent, plus additional points can be earned by providing your email address, etc.  When you register, you receive a discount coupon just for signing up that can also be used for your back-to-school shopping.  Get more details at www.famousfootwear.com. 

And take the Famous Footwear customer service online survey that is advertised on the receipt to receive $10 off your next $50 purchase.  You get the coupon code right away that can be used in the next 30 days.

*Kohl’s Deals – Most of the time, almost everything at Kohl’s is marked down at the register, so when shopping there, don’t take the price tag at face value.  Ask what the discounted price is on that day.  I also registered at Kohls.com for the company’s sale alert emails.  When you sign up, you save $5 off your next in-store purchase and 10% off your next Kohls.com purchase.  Once registered, Kohl’s sends you a quick e-mail to confirm your e-mail address.  You also receive an offer for $5 or 10% off within seven business days of that confirmation that can be used for your back-to-school shopping.

*Justice Deals – My daughter loves this store, so we shop at Justice when we receive the 40% off coupon that comes in the catalogue in the mail.  40% make a difference and remember to check their clearance racks, too.  I found an adorable tee that comes with a fabric marker for my girl to decorate, along with a nice pair of shorts.  The tee was marked down twice, making it only $7 and the woven shorts that sold originally for $27 was marked down to $10, so I was happy with these discounts and my kid got her beloved Justice clothing! 

Plus spend $50 at a Justice store and you get a Fun Card for $25 that can be used for a future purchase of a $50 purchase or more from August 16th through November 1, 2011.  The Fun Cards will be handed out until August 15th.

She also really wanted her backpack to come from Justice, so I was glad to see that the backpacks were also marked down reducing the price from $49.00 to $29.00.  $29 for a backpack is not cheap, but several experts I spoke to about backpacks recommend investing in a quality backpack that provides good support to protect our kids’ backs.  Our new Justice backpack has padded straps and a padded back that experts say are better for backs.  Even better brands include LL Bean, Lands End and REI.

*JC Penney -  Be sure to check the newspaper later this week, because I’m told that JC Penney will have a good coupon insert in the paper that will be good over the weekend.  Coupons will be for $10 off a $50 purchase; $15 off of a $75 purchase or $20 off a $100 purchase.  We used the coupon that was in last week’s paper that took $10 off a purchase of $25.  So we were able to buy my daughter an outfit set that came with a plaid skirt, blouse and a scarf that was marked down from $40 to $16, so the sale prices were also good.  And after adding a few more items to our cart, we were thrilled to save an additional $10 with the coupon from the newspaper.

Another way to save at JC Penney is to take the survey that is advertised on the back of the receipt.  I took it on the company’s website and then I was given a code that gets me 15% off my next purchase. 

*Dollar Tree Stores – We definitely found some cool school stuff at the Dollar store, but selection was limited and some of the time-tested brands that we like aren’t sold there.

*Target -  Because we ran out of time and steam, we didn’t make it to Target, but several of my friends told me that Target has some great deals like 40 cent crayons and more.  Plus the folks at Target told me that if an item that you purchase is discounted within two weeks of your purchase date, then you can bring your receipt in to receive the price difference.  Now that is cool!

What back-to-school bargains do you know about?  I’m sure there are more out deals out there that I didn’t cover, so share here in the comments section.  Happy new school-year season everyone!