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Sister Save A Lot Saves on back to school Supplies

Savvy shopping blogger Antoinette Peterson shows off some of the deals she snared in back-to-school supplies for daughter Madison. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

Antoinette Peterson advises friends through her blog, Sister Save-A-Lot, how to spend no more than $20 for a year’s worth of school supplies.

Now that her 4-year-old daughter, Madison, is entering kindergarten at St. Dorothy School this fall, she is leveraging her own savvy-shopping skills.

“It’s a whole new adventure,” said the Morgan Park resident.

She is realizing the best deals by watching for coupons and special sales and taking newspaper ads into certain retailers that match lowest-advertised prices. Examples include 39-cent highlighters and 20-cent spiral notebooks at Target, and 1-cent folder and notebook paper sales at Staples.

Peterson found affordable school uniforms at local retailer Zemsky’s Family Fashion Stores.

Shoppers also may grab deals by staggering clothing purchases and inventorying drawers and closets rather than buying a new wardrobe in one trip, says Jill Cataldo, a coupon expert and mother of three based in Huntley. Once a child sees what his friends are wearing, he and the parents can find clothing sales after Labor Day, she said.

For backpacks, Cataldo advises checking whether your favorite store’s loyalty program allows you to get one for free.

Cataldo, who blogs at JillCataldo.com, advises checking discount- and office-supply stores’ newspaper fliers for deals, and pick up the best “loss leader” item one at a time.

“People are in a hurry to get their back-to-school shopping done, so they’ll check off their entire list in one trip. But you’ll end up paying more than if you pick up the best deals while you’re already out doing errands. If you take advantage of those penny and 5-cent sales every week, you can check off the entire list for $5 to $10,” she said.

Parents of elementary-school students nationwide are expected to pay a total of $132.37 for supplies needed to fill a backpack, including books, notebooks, scissors, pencils, pens and the backpack itself, according to the 2011 Backpack Index issued by Huntington Bank, a Columbus, Ohio-based bank that operates in six Midwestern states. It estimates $159.22 for middle schoolers’ basic supplies and $900.70 for high school students.

The elementary school backpack index’s highest expenses are for six two-pocket folders ($13.74), an assignment book ($10.99), the backpack ($8), two large boxes of tissue ($5.98) and 500 sheets of plain paper ($5.49). For high school supplies, a $120 calculator and $32 worth of books top the expenses.

The biggest price increases from last summer are required to meet school mandates that elementary students bring more paper and notebooks, the survey found.

Other surveys forecast a wide range of spending for back-to-school amid conflicting trends: While parents pinch pennies as they worry about higher gasoline prices and the air-conditioning expenses of a hot summer, they are increasingly shopping at department stores for teen-celebrity-endorsed clothes. Yet they will spend less on smartphones, tablet computers and other electronics, which kids now buy throughout the year as updated models go on the market.

A fashion trend influencing the buying this year is celebrity-endorsed and influenced clothing and accessories, such as Macy’s Material Girl line by Madonna and her daughter, Lourdes; Kmart’s Dream Out Loud line by Selena Gomez; Wal-Mart’s Miley Cyrus for Max Azria line; Target’s William Rest line by Justin Timberlake; JC Penney’s Olsenboye from Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen and Kohl’s Britney Spears for Candie’s.

Another hit is Angry Birds, a puzzle video game whose characters now adorn backpacks, backpack clips, magnets and wallets.

Customer Growth Partners forecasts shoppers will increase their back-to-school spending by 6.2 percent from a year ago for elementary through college needs, to a record $467 billion nationwide. The forecast covers retail spending for July, August and September, and includes toys, sporting goods and home furnishings.

The National Retail Federation predicts flat spending totaling
$22.8 billion for grades K-12, estimating families will spend an average of $603.63 on clothes, electronics and school supplies, slightly less than last year’s $606.40.

Both surveys include online, in-store and mobile-device-based spending.

YOU MAY FIND THIS ARTICLE AT: http://www.suntimes.com/photos/galleries/7088941-417/looking-for-back-to-school-bargains-blogger-has-some-ideas.html

In addition, check deal blogs. In Chicago, Tam’s favorites include Frugalistic Mom, A Savings Wow and Antoinette Peterson’s Sister Save-A-Lot.

Antoinette Peterson, a Morgan Park mom of daughter Madison, blogs to help save others money at Sister Save-A-Lot.

Her suggestions:

†Divide and Conquer Black Friday shopping. Take a partner and divide up the shopping list to ensure that you both get the items you were looking for.

†Use coupons that allow you to take an extra percentage off. For example, Children’s Place items will be 30 percent off, and if you add the retailer’s 20 percent off coupon, you are saving even more on kids’ clothes. (Sign up for the stores’ e-mails to get the extra savings coupons.)

†Take advantage of Wal-Mart and Target “ad match” opportunities. Check other retailers’ offers to match their rivals’ prices.

Lesley Tweedie, 31, of Roscoe Village, co-owns Roscoe Village Bikes with husband Alex, and she founded LittleIndependent.com for online shoppers who shop locally. She has a laid-back approach to holiday shopping:

If it feels hectic or stressful, slow down, pace yourself and try to have fun. A gift is meant to make the recipient feel special and cared for. If you find something that fills the need and is in your budget, get it and check it off your list.

YOU MAY FIND THIS ARTICLE AT: http://www.suntimes.com/business/9005371-420/savvy-shoppers-share-tips-deals.html


About 120 million Americans are expected to log onto their computers on Cyber Monday — as many as half of them while at work — to look for a second and third wave of holiday deals.

Cyber Monday sales are expected to hit a record $1.2 billion, a 12.4 percent jump from last year, according to research firm IBISWorld. Online retail sales for the November-December holiday season are expected to total $60 billion, or 12 percent of all holiday retail sales — up from 6 percent of the total six years ago, according to Forrester Research.

Chicago’s savviest bloggers offer tips for Cyber Monday, when retailers roll out deals ranging from a $79 Kindle 4 e-reader to one-day 50-percent-off deals on hotel stays.

Lesley Tweedie, founder of LittleIndependent.com for online shoppers who shop locally:

†A good deal and a good value are not always the same. Even if an item is 50-percent off with free shipping, if it won’t make someone on your list feel special and keep you on your budget, then it’s not a good value.

†Send Lou Malnati’s pizza, Vienna Beef Hot Dogs, Manny’s Delicatessen Corned Beef and other Chicago favorites with tastesofchicago.com. You can also order gift cards through the site.

Leyla Arsan, a blogger at SundayMorningSoliloquy.com and LotusMarketingServices.com:

†Pay attention because retailers sometimes announce various offers throughout the day.

†Earn extra points during the holidays with the Bonus Points Mall through American Express. Navigate to membershiprewards.com/earn, and search and shop from the listed retailers. It is possible to earn up to five times the usual points.

Antoinette Peterson, who blogs at Sister Save-A-Lot:

†When possible, use a free shipping code. Check out freeshipping.org for promo codes.

†Go after the flash sales first. If a site offers a limited number of items or if the sale is for a limited amount of time, go after that sale first if it’s truly what you want.

†Create shopping accounts with the retailers where you plan to shop, and when you do, sign up to receive their newsletters and text alerts. Stores like Walmart are known for texting and emailing “members only” last-minute online deals.

†Sign up and shop through cash-back sites to receive a cash rebate just for shopping through a retailer’s portal. Websites such as Ebates and ShopAtHome will put $5 into your account just for signing up.

YOU MAY FIND THIS ARTICLE AT:http://www.suntimes.com/business/9015965-646/more-deals-coming-on-cyber-monday.html





Antoinette Peterson doesn’t look like your typical coupon clipper. There are no thick reading glasses or blue-silver pin curls on this shopper … oh, no. Peterson’s alter ego, Sister Save-A-Lot, is a modern sister who appreciates the finer things in life, and never pays full price for them.
Peterson first discovered couponing while in college; she mastered the art of frugal living after her mother lost her job, and Peterson and her daughter moved back home to help out.
“My income now had to cover three people. I started clipping more coupons, but I was not saving as much.”
The first shopping trip as a serious coupon clipper changed her life. “I did a Facebook status where I said, ‘I saved $11 at Target.’ My friend from school was like, ‘I save 80 percent every time I go shopping. So, I said, ‘What do you do that I’m not doing?’ I met her at my house, and my first shopping trip was at Jewel Osco, and the bill went from $95 to $9. After my first shopping trip went like that, I started my blog, and I started telling people, ‘This is how you do it. I’m letting you know it’s a secret out here, so take notes.”
Here, she shares her top shopping secrets:

Get FREE Stuff.
“Coupon plus discount equals free or inexpensive. Also, Dollar Tree stores accept coupons, too, and you get a lot of stuff for free. A lot of people don’t know that.”

STACK your coupons.
“You’re told you can use one coupon per purchase. Let me tell you what a ‘purchase’ is. If I have five items, that’s one purchase, and I can use five different coupons. The majority of the coupons can be stacked [to use the store coupon and the manufacturer coupon]. Doubling a 50-cent coupon equals a dollar. However, if I have a dollar manufacturer’s coupon and a dollar in-store coupon, that’s two dollars.”
Know the coupon schedule.
Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays are coupon insert days for most local newspapers. “If you ever forget to get your coupons on Sunday, check your Dollar Tree on Sunday morning.”
Plan Ahead.
“Around every holiday, there’s always a sale. Some holidays, like back in May, you could have purchased hot dogs, hot dog buns, and a pop for a penny; one penny, all name brand, Oscar Mayer, for one cent. But the difference is planning. For example, my daughter’s birthday is in September. However, I have her goodie bags ready. I’ve been shopping for goodie bags for her party since last September.”
Sister Save-A-Lot warns that couponing can be rewarding … and addictive. “When you’re first starting out, couponing can be addictive once you realize that, all this time, you’ve paid full price. So, you’re about to stock up now.”

YOU MAY FIND THIS ARTICLE AT: http://rollingout.com/business/job-finance-tips/antoinette-peterson-star-of-tlcs-extreme-couponing-shares-shopping-secrets/