Back-to-school deals you need to know about

HOUSTON If you look at ads for back-to-school supplies, stores have fantastic deals, even offering free supplies. But if you don't read the fine print, some of the so-called freebies could actually end up costing you.

The store shelves at Wal-Mart are fully stocked with spiral notebooks for 15 cents, binders for 75 cents, packs of pencils for 50 cents and backpacks for $7.

"I think Wal-Mart beats everybody, so I don't usually waste my time anywhere else," shopper Leslie Brown said.

Wal-Mart is proud of their price drops and wants everyone to know their prices are truly unbeatable. That's why the company has a price match policy.

"We'll match the identical item on the price at the lowest price that we can offer it," said Daniel Morales with Wal-Mart.

Over at Target, the store has a similar price match policy. There, we found Crayola crayons for 25 cents, notebooks and composition for 50 cents and colored pencils for a dollar.

"I find a lot of stuff last week and this week," one shopper said.

At Staples, the supply store has what they call "extreme deals."

A pack of 120-count filler paper is just a penny, flash drives that are normally $9.99 are advertised for a dollar, and for the entire week, there are three free items that include sticky notes, highlighters and scotch tape.

"Every penny counts; every penny counts," Staples shoppers Lajuana Wiseman said.

Wiseman is shopping from store to store to pick up the free and penny deals all around town.

"I have a college student off in college out of state and a small kid here in Houston that's going to a public school, and I just need every penny," she said.

But if any deal sounds too good to be true, be sure to read the fine print. Take for example a flash drive we found advertised for a dollar. You actually have to pay $9.99 up front and then you'll get $9.99 in Staples reward money, a card you will have to sign up for.

What about the free deals? They exist if you are lucky enough to find any left.

With most free deals, they are free in the form of a rebate. That means you will have to pay for the supplies up front then fill out a form to get a rebate in the mail.

And what about those penny deals? The special usually runs for a few days, and there are limited supplies and no rain checks.

The bottom line is if you are going to try to score on those penny or buy-one-get-one-free deals, the ads usually come out on Sunday, so it's best to shop that day for the best selection.

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