Preparing for school, I went through my checklist: gather the school supplies – check, plan haircuts – check, purchase uniforms – check, and schedule eye exams – check.
After having our eyes examined last year, our doctor warned us that our son was on the brink of needing glasses, so I scheduled our exams prior to the start of school.
Prepared with toys and activities, our entire family camped out at the doctor’s office one Saturday morning. Four out of the five of us received vision exams with three of us needing new prescriptions.
Choosing to research our options for glasses, we left the doctor’s office with dilated eyes, funky sunglasses, and our prescriptions.
Choosing Kids’ Glasses
At home, I located a list of our in-network providers. After a few phone calls, I decided to just visit the providers in person. One weekday evening, our family headed out glasses shopping. The salesperson at our first stop was less than helpful spouting off lots of numbers and recommending lots of options at additional charges.
Having a basic understanding of our plan, I was getting confused with the numbers, and the answers to my questions were less than helpful. So, we left and stopped by J. C. Penney Optical where we found someone willing to spend time going over the options with us.
With our vision insurance plan, the price for 2 pairs of glasses for my son came to $58. Seeing the advertisement for the $25 kids’ glasses through September 7, 2013, I asked our kind representative to check the price of the promotion. In doing so, the price for the same 2 pairs of glasses with the same options came to $53.
Saving $5 and our insurance benefits, we chose to go with the $25 kids’ glasses promotion rather than our vision insurance benefits as the two cannot be combined at the store.
This way, should our son’s prescription change by the end of the year, we can still purchase new glasses using the insurance benefits. If he doesn’t need those insurance benefits, then I can submit one of his pairs for a partial reimbursement.
$25 Kids’ Glasses
Photograph Credit: JCP Optical
The $25 Kids’ Glasses promotion at JCP Optical ends on September 7, 2013. This offer includes any kids’ frame up to $120, FREE impact and scratch-resistant polycarbonate lenses, FREE UV protection and FREE eyeglass protection plan for any school-aged child 16 and under.
The amazing part of this deal for me was realizing that getting a second pair of glasses for $25 was less expensive than replacing the first pair under the FREE eyeglass protection plan for $40.
The protection plan comes FREE with the deal. But if my son cracks his glasses where the frame needs replacement, the cost under the protection plan is $40.
By having two pairs, we have an automatic backup should one pair break during the year.
In stretching our dollars, our family had our annual eye exams, researched our in-network options, asked the representatives questions, and compared promotions with our insurance benefits. The result was purchasing two pairs of glasses for our son. Paul and I still need to place our orders, but our options are a bit more complicated.
Thankful for promotions like JCP Optical’s $25 kids’ glasses, we saved $5 by choosing the promotion over our insurance benefits. Taking a few minutes to check both options ended up being using time wisely as we snagged the best deal for our son’s glasses. Happy stretching your dollars!
Question: Do you get an annual eye exam, or do you wait until you have vision problems?
Photograph Credit: Fotolia
Back in 2010 when my son started K5, I remember purchasing everything he needed prior to the start of the school year.
I prepared and snagged deals, and the process worked smoothly.
With two in school now and the deals not going as low as I would like, I am becoming more patient.
Realizing that we don’t need everything before the first day of school, I’m using these 4 savings tips to starting off the school year.
Tip #1: Shop our Inventory
By shopping our inventory, I gathered most of our school clothing and supplies. I then compiled a master list of items we still needed to start the year. I loved how I did not need to spend lots of extra money this year as I had most of the supplies needed from prior sales.
For example, I looked through our cabinet of office supplies and found a dry-erase eraser purchased last year from Staples. Noticing that my daughter needed an Expo brand eraser, I contacted her teacher to inquire. Receiving the response that any dry-erase eraser would do, I added our already-purchased eraser to my daughter’s supplies. Yay, eraser marked off the list!
Tip #2: Determine Need vs. Want
During our inventory, we discovered that both backpacks and both lunch packs were in great condition from last year. Rather than asking for a new one, both of my children are happy with their choices last year and will use these backpacks this year.
In purchasing higher quality backpacks, my children get 2 years out of them which is a great way to stretch our dollars.
My children also liked their 12″ pencil boxes used last year. So, we washed them out and will use those again this year as well. 😉
Tip #3: Checking Sales
Left on our list of needed items was a new dress uniform for my daughter. This uniform is only worn on special days, so it is not needed for the first day of school.
I kept a look on the sales at J. C. Penney where the IZOD collection is the most reasonably priced. When they ran a sale on these items, I paired the sale with a promotional code and scored free shipping resulting in a great deal for her new dress uniform.
Tip #4: Choosing when to Purchase
Though I could have waited to purchase my daughter’s dress uniform until after the start of school, I jumped at the sale and purchased it.
Knowing that my son will need some pants this fall, I am waiting for a sale on those items as he will start the school year wearing shorts. He does not need the pants now, but if a sale comes before school starts, then I will snag them.
In using time wisely, I started by taking inventory to know what we had at home, then determined our needs and wants, checked the sales, and chose when to purchase. These 4 savings tips to starting off the school year saved our family money while stretching our dollars. Happy savings!
Question: What are your savings strategies this year?
Boxes of new crayons, packages of notebook paper, and #2 pencils are some of the supplies on our back to school lists this year. In seeking a good sale or taking advantage of tax-free weekend, you might be working on that supply list.
Though most of our supplies are gathered, I still have a few to snag before school starts. I can always take a few more school supplies as you never know what supplies you might need throughout the year.
Stocking up now can stretch your dollars because those supplies will only increase in price once school starts.
Another option for stretching your dollars is taking 5 minutes of your time to enter the Back to School Extravaganza Giveaway hosted by Quida, blog owner at Simple Savings for ATL Moms.
The winner will receive an abundance of supplies. This giveaway begins today and ends on Saturday, August 17, 2013. Someone will win all those fabulous gift cards and supplies, and I hope it is you. In using time wisely, enter today. Good luck! ~ Tracy
Back to School Extravaganza Giveaway
Welcome to the Back to School Extravaganza Giveaway!
Prize value is over $250!
Have you started preparing your children for going back to school? Sometimes this can be a challenge when funds are limited.
Simple Savings For ATL Moms is giving away some fantastic prizes to help all families. Be sure to enter the simple steps now!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I have been compensated to share this fantastic giveaway! This giveaway is not associated with with Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.
Photograph Credit: Fotolia
Playing during summer, and preparing for the fall. This is my motto for back to school savings. Though I would rather not think about school, the fact is back-to-school supplies sales begin Sunday, July 7, 2013.
I love the 1¢ to $1 deals that come around at this time of year, but before running out shopping, I gather my information. I request the supply list from our teachers and check the inventory we have at home, then I know what we still need to get for the start of the school year.
With my lists in hand, my favorite ways to save include the Back to School Savings Pass, comparing deals among the stores, and stocking up throughout the season.
Back to School Savings Pass
Last year, I waited for a $10 off coupon from Staples and purchased a Back to School Savings Pass for $10. Present this pass at the time of checkout to receive an additional 15% off your back-to-school supplies. The pass can be used once per day until September 21, 2013. Check your Sunday paper or the Staples website for the coupon for $5 off a purchase of $30 or more.
Don’t think you can spend $30 for items you need? What about purchasing 2 reams of the Staples multipurpose paper for $6.99 each + the savings pass + $6.01 in other products including 1¢ and 25¢ deals?
You will spend around $25 (the $30 minus $5 coupon). Then submit the rebates online for the 2 reams of paper and get back $13.98 in a few weeks. You will have your savings pass, 2 reams of copy paper, and $6 of other products for around $11. Not too shabby!
Comparing Back to School Deals
Among Staples, Office Max, Office Depot, Target, Bi-Lo, Walmart, and the dollar store, one could spend all week shopping. Well, in using time wisely, we are not shopping for back to school each day of the week. Whew!
Last year, I concentrated on Staples since I had the Back to School Savings Pass, and Staples was located in an area I passed often throughout the week. I did pick up a few items at Walmart, Office Depot, and Target, but I concentrated on Staples.
To check the lowest prices of back to school items from last year, check out the 2013 price list from Jenny Martin at Southern Savers. Then to see all the back to school sales for each week, search these websites using “back to school” on their home page:
Stocking Up on Back to School Deals
Knowing what we need and stocking up when the sales are low saves a ton of money throughout the school year. From poster board to dry-erase markers, we keep a stock knowing that we will need more throughout the school year and the summer.
Our family goes through dry-erase markers so quickly. It’s not that they dry up, it is that we practice and study by using the dry-erase markers all year long. I just keep a big stash of them. I’m glad the sales are beginning as I opened our last packet about 2 weeks ago.
Other great opportunities to stock up include:
- Items for Operation Christmas Child boxes
- Gifts for teachers
- Fun for young house guests
- Gifts for children
- Toss your old supplies and start with new
As the back to school supplies sales begin, get your lists ready. In stretching your dollars, know what you need, so you are not spending money on items you already have on hand.
I’m preparing now because the deals are coming. Get ready because the 1¢ deals are here. 😉 Happy savings!
Question: Any tips for stretching our dollars while shopping for back to school supplies?
Photograph Credit: 3M Dream Big Sweepstakes
Calling All Educators –
Parents, Grandparents, Teachers, and School Board Members:
Schools of all levels, types, and sizes need your winning entry to receive the one $25,000 cash reward from the 3M Dream Big Sweepstakes.
Before you dismiss the idea with, “Well, I never win anything,” give yourself a chance. You may or may not win, but don’t quit before you try. Most of us cannot write a check for $25K, but we can enter a free sweepstakes.
3M Dream Big Prize Package
When your brilliant entry wins, your school will win the following 3M Dream Big Sweepstakes $50,000 prize package:
- $25,000 in cash
- $20,000 in 3M products
- A presentation by the 3M Visiting Wizards – worth $5,000
I don’t know of a school that wouldn’t love to get this prize package. To help your school with their next project, you must enter the 3M Dream Big Sweepstakes.
In using time wisely, let’s make sure your school qualifies for the prize package. Per the sweepstakes’ rules:
The school selected by entrant must be an operating public school of grades K-12 in the United States, (excluding Puerto Rico), as defined by the Department of Education and not-for-profit private and charter schools grades K thru 12 who are run by or supported by legal residents of the United States or a U.S. corporation. Sponsor reserves the right to make any final decisions regarding the school’s eligibility for the prize. All private schools must be non-profit and exempt under IRS code 501(c)(3) to be eligible. Private schools that are for profit are not eligible for the prize. Submission of a 501(c)(3) letter of tax exemption may be required to verify eligibility.
If you are unsure of your school’s eligibility, contact your school’s finance office for clarification.
How to Enter
You need to write a short essay, no more than 500 words. Don’t panic. Most of the posts you read here on Using Time Wisely are more than 500 words, so we are not talking about a research paper. 😉 Remember, you want your school to win $25,000. Keep your eye on the prize.
To enter, visit www.3MDreamBig.com and tell us in 500 words or less how innovative your school is and what is your big dream for your school. Complete the online entry form and click on the Submit Your Essay link button. Essays must be submitted in English. Only one school can be submitted per entry. Prize cannot be divided between multiple schools. LIMIT ONE ENTRY PER PERSON/EMAIL ADDRESS. Duplicate essay entries will be disqualified. Entries must be received by 11:59:59 p.m. EDT on 10/31/2012.
Tracy’s Writing Tips
I recommend writing your essay in a word processing program, like Microsoft WORD. Upon completion, run the spelling and grammar check and verify your word count. When the essay is complete, copy the words of your essay and paste them into the online entry form and submit. The judges will choose a winner around November 30, 2012.
You want to win don’t you? Well, the fine print shares the grading scale. 🙂
Winner selection: A qualified panel of judges will select one winner. Entries will be judged 30% on Innovative Ideas, 40% on Significance of Need, and 30% on Creativity. Each portion of judging will be given a score of 1 to 5. In the event of a tie, tie breaker will be based on the highest score in the first judging criteria, continuing thereafter to each judging criteria in order as need to break the tie. For WI residents only, in the event of a tie, duplicate prizes will be awarded.
With a Halloween deadline, October 31, 2012, submit your winning essay to the 3M Dream Big Sweepstakes. Use storytelling or personal experiences to draw the judges into your big dream for your school. Give them what they want, so they can’t help but give your school that $25,000 reward. Happy composing while thinking how your school could stretch $25K!
Question: How are you helping your school dream big?