Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Prizes and Deals: Don't Miss!

I'm just popping in this week to tell you about a prize opportunity and how to get some deals on school supplies.

First, if you haven't been to HomeschoolConvention.com, its time to visit. (See this post)  This week if you go to the booths in the virtual convention and answer some questions, you'll be put in to win a gift card.  33 gift cards are available for the taking in amounts of $25 to $150.  These would make great gifts for yourself or for Christmas, or whatever else you may have in mind.  All you have to do is go to the website and register for free then go through the curriculum hall and answer some questions.  Simple.

Second, if you don't already know, we homeschoolers are often eligible for discounts at stores that offer discounts to educators.  Yup, you don't have to cash a paycheck from a school to necessarily get those discounts.  The big office stores such as Staples, Office Max, and Office Depot aren't usually the best place to stock up on school supplies when it comes to prices.  But, if you participate in their rewards programs, you may be surprised at some of the deals you can get.

It seems a little early to me to be thinking about stocking up on school supplies.  I'm in complete rejection of any daily structure lately.  School is pretty far off my radar.  And yet, I couldn't ignore some of the coupons and deals that have been put before me lately.

Here's what you do: go into any of the office stores and ask if they offer discounts to educators.  I rarely put on the table that I'm a homeschooler as individuals at the stores sometimes object, but the chains themselves usually offer such discounts to the homeschooling community.  When they tell you about such-and-such a rewards program, sign up.  On the sign up sheet when it asks which school you teach at simply put "homeschool."  If you're at all uncertain that you would qualify, go to the store's website before going and print out their policy on discounts to homeschools.  I usually also take with me a copy of any paperwork they may ask for just in case (my intent to homeschool form, a letter from the school superintendent acknowledging I will be homeschooling, or whatever your state may require and that will prove you homeschool).

Here's where to find information on the rewards programs for the main big office supply stores:
Staples Rewards Not specifically for teachers but I've gotten some good use out of it.
Office Max Teacher Rewards : Note that the Office Max Terms and Conditions doesn't specifically mention homeschoolers.  It doesn't specifically exclude them, either.  I was able to get a Teacher card at my local store without a problem.  If you aren't allowed to get a card at your local store you may want to try to sign up online.
Office Depot Not a specific card for teachers, but a rewards card nonetheless.

Most often I have used the program offered by Staples and Office Max for the simple reason that they have been the stores closest to me.  Here's an example of how I've used the program at Staples (which I used primarily because it is closest to where I live right now).  We ran out of copy paper.  One week Staples offered 100% back the price of a box of paper in rewards.  Though that was a lot of paper to purchase at once, I bought it.  Then, later I received an e-mail with my rewards balance which was around $27.  I went back to the store and bought a couple of big binders that I needed with the rewards money.  Turned out, those binders were currently running a rebate offer.  I mailed in the rebate information and later received the money from that which I used to buy some pencils that we needed.  Meanwhile, I was also earning rewards by bringing in my ink cartridges for recycling.  Its not an immediate turn-around of benefits.  I believe their goal is to get loyal, returning customers.  But, I've found for me, if I shop carefully, I can make this work out to my advantage.

Lately, I've been getting e-mails with coupons from Staples which are for the rewards card holders only.  I've taken notice of the 50% off binders and a few other deals.  Small binders usually have the best prices when school supplies go on sale, but the bigger binders are hard to get with a discounted price.

So, while it is a bit early, for me anyway, to put my mind toward school supplies, I am keeping my eyes open for hints of deals that can save us a little money.

Have a great week!

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