1) Discounted Backpacks: Backpacks are a must to buy FIRST! Seems like they are always out of stock and usually they are on sale so you can get the best price on the styles you want. Target.com has a slew of backpacks on sale currently at about 20 percent off plus free shipping - you can avoid the lines! Also, it is smart to buy a higher quality backpack - this year I found a past-season Patagonia one on sale for under $40 and free shipping. I've gotten lots of tips that Lands End has a guarantee on its backpacks - that it will replace broken zippers and the like - prices starting at around $39, plus you can monogram it so that your child theoretically doesn't lose it.
2) Network to find deals: Friends aren't just good for going to the movies or lunch - they also usually have kids your kids' age. So why not get a group together for a clothing swap? I've given plenty of good barely-worn baby clothes to my neighbor. You can find some local clothing swaps by searching www.Meetup.com. In addition, you can find really key school clothing pieces at secondhand shops in your local neighborhood or on a site like www.thredup.com - an online consignment shop specializing in providing high-quality like-new clothes at reliably low prices.
3) Hot buy: winter gear By the time it is cold out, you'll never find long underwear, snow pants, mittens, hats and gloves. Plus now there are major past-season sales going on where you can save up to 40 percent off winter gear. I love www.backcountry.com, rei.com and sierratradingpost.com.
4) Utilize coupons or discount codes- According to National Retail Federation, 36% of parents will do more online comparison shopping to find the best back-to-school deals. I never shop online without looking for a coupon code first. I use retailmenot or coupon cabin to score the most recent codes, or you can use a site like www.cardpool.com to score discounted gift cards to over hundreds of retailers. (I saw discounts for LL Bean). Other good sites are pricegrabber.com, the ShopGenius App, RedLaser App and Decide.com.
5) College Bound deals- Your college-bound kiddos may be craving some brand name labels to take to college and you're in luck with the opening of the Fashion Outlets of Chicago - / - a high-end retail outlet mall that opened up in Rosemont just ten days ago and are having lots of special sales and offerings for their grand opening - check their offers page for the latest. Bloomingdales Outlet there has a great sale going on through today - up to 60 percent off discounted prices - it's a great place to get brand name coats, polo shirts, and denim for your high school grad.
For the tech stuff your college kid will need such as computers, thumb drives, blu-ray and gaming devices check out www.pricewatch.com for the latest deals. Pre Labor-Day offers happening now!
For dorm rooms I love the combo bed/organization system so you get more bang for your buck. Ikea in Schaumburg or Bolingbrook has so many different bed choices and organizational systems at a great price. Plus, look on their website for special offers each week on select items.Moms2Media.com