Monday, August 25, 2014

How (NOT) to Save on School Supplies

So Margaret needs a fancy-pants calculator for math this year.

This weekend we headed off to Target to do our school supply shopping and found the one we needed for $129.99.  Holy moly.

She chose the pink one, which I was happy about, because I remember from my teaching days that calculators like this tend to get stolen. I figured a bright pink one might be easier to keep track of than a black one.  We got out of Target for $199 plus change. Yes, we purchased most of her school supplies, but we also found some comfy sweats, blank t-shirts for tie-dying, an 18 pack of colorful pens that I just had to have, and a couple boxes of Special K. Target is a dangerous place.

Later that day, we learned that Staples had the same calculator on sale for $89.99! Except it wasn't really on sale; it just qualified for $5 off with a coupon plus a $35 rebate. Still, $40 bucks is $40 bucks, right? So Margaret and I planned another outing to go get a second calculator and return the first one to Target another day. Tim did a little online research and determined the same calculator, only in black, was $99 at Amazon, with free shipping. He posited: "Would it be worth the extra $10 and the color change to just stay home?"

Nah, Silly Man! We've got this shopping thing covered.

So we headed out to Staples. We took the toll road, which cost $2.00, but we were saving $40, so who really cared? Once we got to Staples, we easily found what we needed...and then some.

Yep, the pink calculator was there, but so was a wall calendar for me, and the binders Margaret still needed at $11 a pop. Eleven Dollars. Eleven. Oh for the days when I got the kids their binders at the thrift store for .69 each. I considered trying to slip some "vintage" binders by her later in the week, but these ELEVEN DOLLAR binders were in our hand, not in the bush, so we bought them.

We also loaded up on some spiral notebooks for our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. At the register, several other items mysteriously materialized in our cart: Burt's Bees lip balm, a bag of sour candy because our blood sugar was plummeting, and another jumbo pack of pens for me.

Staples Haul: $200 before $35 rebate. Oh, and what happened to the $5 off coupon? It was on Tim's desk at home, left there during his stint as an internet researcher.

Anyhooo, I am none too impressed with Margaret's and my shopping skills right now, and will tremble with fear until I unload the first calculator at Target AND get my rebate from Staples. Then there's the problem that I'll probably be tempted by other shiny objects at Target when I go. Or what if they have a sale on Boyfriend T's, cardigans, or miscellaneous plastic items?  How much is this calculator going to cost us????

So I guess what I'm saying is, I think Tim was right.

But you don't need to say anything to him. And certainly DO NOT tell him we ended up at TJ Maxx after Staples. It was right next door, and we really needed that pina colada scented candle and those mugs.

Update: Just dug through my purse for the Target receipt and it turns out the calculator was on sale for $90.00. Yep, all of this to save .01 

36 comments:

Pam Priester said...

But, hey, at least you skipped over DSW Shoe Warehouse. It could have been so much worse!

deb said...

This may be your funniest blog post ever! LOL'ed several times. Can totally relate.

Brandi said...

I am familiar with this struggle!!! And why is there always that one item that is impossible to find thus causing you to go to 5 more stores?

Thinking of you during this time. I know that back-to-school is not the same for you as it once way. Sending your family love and prayers.

MaryS said...

Love this post--for Tim's attempt to keep you away from the store(s) and for your honesty about behaving like a marketer's dream shopper. : )

Live and learn, and laugh at the great stories you get to tell from the experiences.

Jill said...

My daughter is a junior in college. This year was the first that I actually got out of Staples at under $30. It was glorious! I take this as a sign that she is growing up.

One crazed mommy said...

Hehe! :) That's one expensive pink calcluator. LOL!

Paula said...

Oh, this is so me too! Glad someone else shops like this!

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

I haven't yet been shopping for school supplies but am now considering Tim's wisdom.

Christine R said...

Ha! A Burt's Bees lip balm sneaked into my Staples shopping cart last week too! :-) I hope Margz has a wonderful school year. xo

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Oh my that is rather funny!!! At least you got a lot of one on one time with Margaret......

Kathy Radigan said...

Anna you had me in stitches with you and Margaret's shopping adventure!! It does seem to snowball doesn't it? Much luck to her on a new school year!

Gigi said...

That is too, too funny. And sounds too, too familiar...

But those pens - totally worth it. I know because I'm a sucker for them too.

Sheila said...

My first thought was, you skipped DSW?? Target....I went in for mouthwash and spend $53

Alison said...

Oh but shopping IS SO MUCH FUN!

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

oh my gosh- i am dying that the original as on sale! i hate supply shopping- i send chris with the list to do it... it makes me crazy!

Andrea Mowery said...

Staples and TJ Maxx go together like peanut butter and jelly, don't they?

We did the Target calculator shuffle last year. We bought the calculator, held it for a month in the packaging, at which point the middle-schooler told me that he didn't need it. We returned it, only to be told THE VERY NEXT DAY that they were going to be using their calculators in school tomorrow. I didn't buy another one, and no one complained all year.

Sandie said...

This is so mo, hits too close to home, forgot to use the cartwheel app at Target, back in to get refund, spend 2 more dollars from the $ bin to keep 2 little boys content while we save our 3.10. Yep my bargain hunting has often spent lots of energy with little yield. But it's still fun to hunt out the deals.
Sandie Brown

Arnebya Herndon said...

This is my kind of math, unfortuntaely. UNFORTUNATELY. And Target's hypnotizing bullseye gets me everytime. When I'm able to leave having spent under $100 when I went in for napkins and detergent, I call those good shopping days. Also, the rebates are hell for me. If it's not automatic, I won't do it. If I have to mail something in, it ain't hapnin. (Separately, but not really, why are all of Target's cardigans mysteriously 3/4 sleeves this year? I want it to stop).

Lisa C said...

I'm CRYING! Totally relate, which is why I usually send my husband because he sticks to the list. Something I'm never able to do!

Meg Riemer said...

Story of my life Anna. Especially the part about the coupon left at home!

shenne hahn said...

Ha! I LOVE school supplies, so I'm well aware of the dangers of back-to-school shopping. It costs a lot to save so much: both time AND money. But at least you got a great blog post out of it!

LauraBeth said...

Anna...

Did you know they also sell silicone cases for those calculators? C picked out a blue one. (I would have gone for the pink cover.). We got the calc and case from Amazon...

Of course, we ALSO hit up both Target (twice) and Staples (twice)... We're done with supplies (I think) but still need some more clothes/shoes... Heading out momentarily with the girls.

Hope to see you at some point on Thursday, or during the school year... C is hoping to share a class or two with Margaret again this year.

Know that my prayers for you, Tim, and Margaret continue...

Love, from the other side of town

Ellen aka Ellie said...

I went to Target early this summer with a gift card in my wallet and bought nothing.

I thought alarms would go off as I left the store...

Anonymous said...

We would be such good friends. I too think about you during the back to school bustle. I cannot wait to buy your book. Liz

Eliza said...

I'm laughing out loud. This is so funny!!!! Doesn't it always happen that way?!?! Damn you, Target. It gets me every time. :) I hope Margaret has a GREAT year at school. Can't wait to read the updates!

Lisa said...

This post is like my life. Ugh!

I saw your Washington Post article and wanted to stop by and say that I am so glad your book will be out. I found your blog soon after you lost Jack, and have stopped by over and over. I was dealing with a traumatic time 3 years ago, and while it wasn't death of a child, it WAS a major trauma, a major disappointment. And I was grieving. A different grief, but a lost just the same. Thank you for your brave sharing of your experience. It resonated with me.

I lost my baby brother to drowning when I was 5, so I also see glimpses of my mother in your writing, as well as glimpses of me, after the death of a sibling in your daughter.

Thanks again for your blog and upcoming book. You are helping people through your sharing.

Burdine Family said...

HAHA! This post had me laughing out loud! Sounds just like me!

Anonymous said...

I resemble these experiences...thanks for sharing and for making me giggle!

Meg said...

LOL, but glad you got some nice shopping time with your girl. Thanks for sharing.

Kara said...

Yes, Target is dangerous. Ah, well ... c'est la vie, right?

Kristi said...

This is EXACTLY how we shop for school supplies. Staples is my vice (next to Target of course). I love everything they sell!

Elaine Alguire said...

All I can do is laugh right now. And tell you how much I love Target too. :D

ella said...

Funniest. Post. EVER! Totally relate to everything here.

ella said...

I love this!!! LOL We just bought one of those calculators only to find out our daughter doesn't really need it until next year.

Elizabeth R said...

Too funny! I mean, in a kind of twisted, laugh-at-someone's-trials sort of way. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Loved this post! Very funny, lol!