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Save by Shopping Online for School Supplies

Michelle Stinson Ross

August is here and the back-to-school rush is on. If you're like me, you work all day, which means shopping for school supplies gets relegated to the weekends. The idea of taking three teenagers with lists around to the local stores on tax-free weekends ranks up there with Black Friday shopping in my book. Busy working moms need solutions that not only save money, but also time and trouble.

More often than not, turning to a little high speed, online shopping can really save the day. If going out to shop for school supplies is your normal habit, consider turning your frugal energies to your keyboards this back-to-school season. Here are a few of my favorite tricks for saving money on pens, pencils, notebooks and more.

Check your email:

Go ahead and open up that email address you reserve for mailing lists and promotional offers. You were willing to give out that address to get a good deal; it's time to check it for a few more great deals. Back-to-school season is a big money maker for retailers of all stripes, and they are more than willing to share a few extra rewards with customers on their email lists. A quick check of my own promotions tab in the good old Gmail box proved that it was stuffed with deals on cell phone cases, back-to-school clothes, computers and even a massage for when I've had enough of the school shopping.

Check the advertised sales:

We are so trained to tune out advertising on TV, radio and print that we might just miss an opportunity to save some cash. Most of the sales that merchants spend the money to advertise are good online as well as in the stores. The ads, especially in print, make comparison shopping quick and easy. I was able to quickly compare prices for things like crayons and spiral notebooks at Target, Office Max, Kmart, Michaels and Rite Aid. Office Max won me over with 10 cent composition books and tax-free savings over the weekend, but there are plenty of other stores offering sales that are a perfect fit for your family.

Check your favorite retailers:

Along with the advertised back-to-school sales, I spotted plenty of online-only deals. Target, Walmart, Office Depot and even eBay have special school promotions featured on their home pages. Target in particular grabbed my attention with an extra savings on kids' clothes for online shoppers. Most of the basics like pencils, folders, notebooks and erasers were less than $1 each in the school supplies department on walmart.com. If you're shopping for more than one student, reaching the $50 threshold for free shipping should be easy enough. I know I'd much rather have a box of school supplies delivered right to my front door than have to trek all over town for it.

Check the deals sites:

Have you ever gotten all the way through your order to land in the shopping cart and wish you had a coupon code for all that stuff? There are several sites that keep track of discount codes all across the web. Checking these kinds of sites first can make the task of comparison shopping much faster. I spotted a "70 percent off school supplies" offer for Amazon while I was browsing my favorite coupon site. These websites offer other cool money saving tools beyond the site itself. Many of them offer mobile apps to take the savings with you when you're on the go. Personally, I love browser apps that will alert me to deals no matter what site I'm shopping. I never go anywhere online without a coupon code thanks to that little add-on.

Shopping for deals on school supplies could actually put a smile back on your face if you're shopping online. You won't have to worry about whether the in-store stock has been picked over by the time you can get out and shop. Checking the supplies off your back-to-school list could be done during a lunch break. Free shipping means that someone else can haul the goods back to your house. And, you get the bonus of having more time to do the things you really want to do with your kids before you send them back to class this fall.

Michelle Stinson Ross is the social marketing manager at Offers.com. She's a working mother of three teens and a digital diva who loves a great deal.

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