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Back-to-school shopping = great deals, no tax
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The big name office retailers (Staples, Office Depot, OfficeMax) and places like Target and Walmart roll out a few huge discounts each week leading up to the start of the school year. They are hoping you'll stock up on everything all at once to offset the money they lose on those a few items they've deeply discounted.
However, you can save the most by picking and choosing from all of these stores. Jump on the 1 cent, 5 cent, and 10 cent specials each week, and avoid buying the rest of your supplies until they go on a big sale. Hold out for nearly free pens, paper and more. Nearly everything will see a big discount eventually, so take your time to build your stash. The potential savings? 80%-90% or better for most items!
As an added bonus, many states offer tax-free shopping just before the school year starts. Finish your purchases then to save the extra 5%-9%.
What if you already bought some items on special, but now the sale got even better? Take advantage of flexible return policies at most stores to do a "return and rebuy". Bring your original receipt and the items back to the store and they'll "return" them at the old price and "rebuy" them at the new one, and you get to pocket the difference! Even if your refund comes in the form of store credit it's a great payback opportunity, and you can use that credit to take advantage of all of the future sales! Some stores will even allow the reverse if you've already opened your packages. Buy the new ones at the new price, and then return them with your old receipt to save the difference (check whether your store allows this practice).