Staples vs. the dollar store - the best back to school buys

Back to school can be a real pain in the wallet for parents. I know. And when my kids were school-age I didn't have a dollar store to go to for cheap school supplies. However, in order to save money, it's still a question of careful shopping, as I discovered on a recent trip to my local Staples to compare prices on the basics. Here's a sampling what I found. (Please check prices in your area.)

  • Binder exercise books. Staples has 200-page exercise books for $1.96 each compared to the dollar store's 140-page notebook for $1. That means you're paying .96 cents more for an extra 60 pages at Staples and probably a better quality paper as well. You decide.

  • 1" binders. Staples has Hilroy binders for .88 cents each. You can't beat that at the dollar store.

  • Index dividers. Staples sells Avery plastic dividers with write-on tab for $3.28 per package. If you don't need fancy, try a package of 10 index dividers for $1.