Back to school on a budget; money saving tips from a local expert

ST. GEORGE – It’s that time of year again, teachers are setting up their classrooms and handing out supply lists, giant marquees in the shape of pencils hover over every aisle of the local department store and crayons in colors enough to make even Joseph and his technicolor coat jealous are stacked on shelves.

Washington County School District heads back to the classroom this Monday and with the first day of school comes a host of supplies and new clothes that kids and teachers need to get the year started off right.

Shopping for school supplies and clothes with kids can be a daunting and difficult task and even pencils can get pricey but you don’t have to break the bank to stock up on glue and glitter, you just need a few good mobile apps, a little time and patience and some savvy shopping advice from a local coupon expert.

Kelly Vincent is the founder and operator of Utah Dixie Deals – a site dedicated to helping locals find the best deals on everything from toothpaste to show tickets – and she teaches a coupon class on how to find the best deals without having to be an “extreme couponer.”

Vincent spoke with St. George News and detailed her favorite tips for back to school shopping on a budget; where to go, where to find the best deals and how to get the most for your money.

Ad match

“For school supplies, the best way to get the best prices on everything is to ad match,” Vincent said. Big name department stores like Wal-Mart and Target will match advertised prices for the same items sold at other stores.

Ad matching requires a small effort on the part of the consumer and the best way to do it, Vincent said, is to make a list of all the supplies you need then browse through the advertisements – found in newspapers, mailers and online – of all the stores in your area for the best prices. Take all the ads to one store – Wal-Mart does not require the physical ads so you can quote prices but Target does need the advertisement, Vincent said.

After the minor inconvenience of comparing prices from several different stores, ad matching is really a good idea to make back to school shopping a lot easier because you can get all the best deals from around town right in one place, Vincent said.

Know where to go

Vincent is always scouring the best deals all over town and her website is chock-full of local deals on everything your family will need to start the school year off right.

One of Vincent’s favorite spots for a steal on name-brand quality backpacks, lunch boxes and messenger bags is Down East Outfitters, 620 West Telegraph Street, Washington.

“Most items are under $5 and are such great quality that they will last for school year after school year,” Vincent said, “some of the backpacks (do) have names monogrammed on them, but I also found some messenger bags that were not personalized for only $4.”

For clothes, Vincent suggests shopping online to find the best prices because many retailers offer special online pricing and free shipping, she said, but whether you shop online or in the store it pays to do a little research to see if there are coupons available online, in the mail or through an app.

Get “apptastic”

Almost every retailer has an app designed to help you save money these days, some, like Target’s Cartwheel app, allow the user to combine savings with other advertised pricing along with the Target Red Card which saves the consumer five percent on their entire purchase.

Some of Vincent’s favorite apps are Kroger’s, Rite Aid’s and Cartwheel, she said.

Another popular app is the IBOTTA app which pays cash dividends through PayPal to the user on items they would already be purchasing.

A little effort can mean big savings

For Vincent, couponing is an extremely effective money saving tool, not just for school but year round on items that you need for yourself and your family and, she said, it doesn’t have to take over your life:

“Couponing doesn’t have to be a lot of work if you know the right way to save you time. My coupon philosophy is that you don’t have to be an ‘extreme couponer’ in order to save big. You can make couponing work for you and your family by spending just a few minutes each week planning your shopping trips the right way by using websites that save you time. It doesn’t have to be hard, you just have to know how. I love to teach people the smart way.

Resources

  • Find a guide to ad matching at Wal-Mart here
  • Find ad matching and other money saving tips for Target here
  • For more local shopping tips around St. George visit Utah Dixie Deals

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Email: hreina@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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4 Comments

  • Dana August 7, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Best way to $ave….STOP having so many children.

  • HL August 7, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Why doesn’t Utah do the tax free weekend like so many other states do?

    Dana, Not everyone has a lot of children. I know several that only have one or two.

    • Dana August 7, 2014 at 4:17 pm

      Like I said, STOP having so many children. If someone can’t afford one or two, they have too many. Having a family and mouths to feed should never be a struggle. It places a burden on everyone and the children usually end up suffering because mommy and daddy had very poor planning skills.

  • My Evil Twin August 7, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    OK, some places are trying to raise sales tax. Why don’t they do the “smart thing,” and start taxing people on the number of kids they have? Seems like it would raise a whole bunch of money, and it just might help control the runaway population growth.

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