Cheap school supplies aren’t just for school!

Our local Walmart stores really bring down prices for school supplies in the last weeks of summer.  Maybe yours do too.  Take advantage of this.

cheap school supplies

A few days ago our family was playing Boggle.  (This game was a yard sale find.)  We each have our own single-subject spiral notebook when we play.

When my wife said that hers was almost full, I admit my face lit up a bit.  “Ooh ooh … this is the time of year for cheap school supplies at Walmart!!!”  She looked at me and said, “No, we still have a box of them from the first time you bought those notebooks.”

A great deal for students

I give Walmart credit for making a bunch of school supplies really affordable in the weeks before school begins.  Discounts are one thing, but I think I got those single-subject spiral notebooks for a dime.  This was a few years ago, but that’s still incredibly cheap.

Good branding.  Good community relations.  Also, good for business.

Also a great deal for non-students :)

The really neat thing about these back to school specials is that you don’t have to be going back to school to take advantage of the deals.  Case in point: spiral notebooks.  Or pencils, pens, staplers, tape rolls, paper clips, pushpins, highlighters, and whiteboards.

Many school supplies work just as well as home office supplies, or away-from-home office supplies.  A few vinyl-coated paper clips in the cube farm make life there a bit more festive, right?

You might be able to save even more

Depending on which state you live in you, catch the right weekend and you could save a few percent more.  This coming weekend and next weekend, eleven states have sales-tax holidays with explicit allowances for school supplies.  August 7th through 9th, 2015, is the big one.

Your homework assignment

Next time you’re in Walmart be on the lookout for cheap school supplies, and have in mind what you can stock up on.  It will be difficult to beat these prices at any other time of the year!

Speeding through checkout with Walmart discounted gift cards

We’ve been buying discounted gift cards from Cardpool and here’s how we’re making checkout a bit faster …

I’m a regular customer of discounted gift card sites.  We do our best to buy and use them safely, and it takes a decent chunk out of our Walmart trips.  (Nothing to retire on, but a decent chunk nonetheless.)

Cardpool sells what it calls “printable electronic gift cards” for Walmart and a number of other businesses.  These are good deals for a number of reasons:

  • They are sent by email, often instantly.  I’ve bought printable electronic gift cards before I go to Walmart.  The time between going to the site and having a printout I can take is about four minutes.
  • There’s no risk of having them stolen from the mailbox.  “Nuff said.
  • They can be used both online and at physical stores.  This is a lot of flexibility.
  • If I know about how much I’m going to spend, I can get really close to that amount with multiple cards.

How to overcome a slight hiccup at checkout

First off, I’ll say that I’ve been very pleased with how Cardpool has handled our orders.  No issues whatsoever, and the cards (both physical and electronic) arrive quickly.  I’ll certainly continue.

The last few times we’ve used their printable electronic gift cards at our local Walmart, though, it seems to have stumped the cashier, and maybe the front manager.  At first, it seemed that scanning the cards over the glass window didn’t work as well as using the hand scanner.  That would have been easy enough, but it was more than that.

These are the instructions that are given for the cashier on the printable electronic gift card:

  1. Total the order
  2. Select “Shopping Card”
  3. Scan the barcode on this page

What has ended up happening a number of times is that the cashier follows these instructions — which appear reasonable, right? — and quickly finds himself or herself in the process of trying to sell us a gift card, which is not what any of us want (including the people standing behind us waiting).

Speed through checkout with Walmart discounted gift cards

The case-cracker!!!

Finally tonight, my wife went over to customer service to figure out where the problem with this process was.  (The line of customers was getting bigger, so she just paid with our credit card tonight.)  They ended up calling a few people to figure it out, but eventually they found that there was a tacit step:

  1. Total order
  2. Select “Credit”
  3. Select “Shopping Card”
  4. Scan the barcode on this page

It’s the “select ‘credit'” part that indicates a payment is coming.  And, apparently, the system treats a gift card like a credit card at some level.

Perhaps sometime after these instructions were written, Walmart had upgraded its checkout software and changed the process the cashier sees.  The instructions on the sheet are now out of sync, and there’s some confusion.

It could be also that this doesn’t happen everywhere, and the instructions work just fine at other Walmarts.

But if you use these kinds of discounted gift cards, and if it’s a regular challenge at checkout, maybe this will fix things:  Tell the cashier to select “credit” first.


Six hacks to get things cheap or free

Use these six hacks to get things cheap or free

Are you a money-saving tip collector?  Then you can always use more, right?

Here are six hacks that you can add to your bag of tricks to get things cheap, or even free:

  1. Turn on the charm.  I know others can play the charm card far better than I can, but I managed to snag a free dessert by phoning in my take-out order while I was standing in a long line at said restaurant. I waved at the cashier after I placed my order, she smiled, and gave me the dessert for free.
  2. Say what you’re looking for.  A friend of mine is looking to start up mountain biking. He was looking for a bike rack for his vehicle. After striking out at a yard sale, the seller asked my friend what he was looking for. He said he was looking for a bike rack.  The seller went back to his shed, and pulled out a bike rack that hadn’t seen the light of day in years. “Like this?” he asked. “Yeah, how much do you want for it?” my friend asked. “Oh, I don’t know … five dollars?” He snagged it.
  3. Capitalize on mistakes.  My same friend look at Walmart for a bike rack for his other vehicle. The clearance section had a number of bike racks. One was in the $30-$40 range, which was quite a bit lower than the original price of around $120.  When he was in town he visited another Walmart, and found the same bike rack discounted quite a bit less: down to about $80-$90.  As far as he could tell, the second Walmart took 35% OFF the original price, while the first Walmart sold it for 35% OF the original price. Oops! But they sold it to him anyway.
  4. Pull out that contact list.  Our church gives our local Domino’s quite a bit of business. They give us one-topping pizzas for $6 all the time.  So when one of our musical groups was getting lunch the day of our concert, we said that we were with the church when we ordered. We got the discount. (We did this with a clear conscience. Not only were we with the church, but it was for a church function. I don’t recommend pretending to be part of a group that you’re not part of!)
  5. Peruse the clearance section, especially if your tech isn’t bleeding-edge. I inherited an iPad 2 from a previous role. I had never gotten a protective cover for it while I was using it, but decided I needed one.  Since my iPad is now several generations old, the accessories were on clearance.
  6. Peruse the curbside.  I know from experience that sometimes it’s an absolute relief to just get rid of something, especially something bulky.  But, it’s also fun to be on the receiving end of free stuff.  We got some nice patio furniture a few years back that still is giving us a lot of use in our sun room.  It was discarded by someone in our subdivision.  We just had to haul it away!

What other tips help you to get things cheap or free?