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The 411: Youth

Back-to-school shopping tips

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August 9, 2011 | 1,682 views | Post a comment

Back-to-school time can mean an expensive annual tradition for parents.

According to the National Retail Federation, families with school-aged kids will spend an average of $603.63 this year with total spending in America expected to reach $22.8 billion. But back-to-school shopping doesn’t have to break the bank. By planning ahead, there are plenty of ways to be a smart shopper and save.

Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater San Antonio (CCCSSA) suggests the following tips for parents as they kick off back-to-school shopping.

•Begin with a plan. Start by taking an inventory of what you currently have at home and talking with your kids about what they will need. Use the school’s supply list as your reference and stick to your list of essentials.

•Clip the coupons and be on the lookout for sales. Coupons mean money in your pocket. Be sure to check out the weekend newspaper circulars because stores will be advertising big sales. Study them and compare prices on different items to get the best bang for your buck. Take advantage of back-to-school tax-free shopping holidays and use that time to do your shopping.

•Stay on budget! CCCSSA strongly recommends that you develop a budget and stick to it. Or, limit your kids’ spending with a prepaid gift card. You can monitor where kids shop and limit spending amounts with prepaid gift cards, which nearly every retailer offers for both in-store and online purchases. This is also a great opportunity to teach your older kids about responsible spending habits. Let them do the comparison shopping and point out that if they get the more expensive item, they will have to cut back in other areas. Not only will they learn about smart shopping, they will value what you buy for them much more.

•Remember kids grow quickly. When shopping for clothes, look for articles of clothing that are basic and never go out of style. You can even buy a couple of sizes too big to keep in the closet for a later time. Buy items on the sale rack or head to outlet malls and discount stores.

•Buy in bulk. Buying supplies like pens or notebooks in large quantities can save you money in the long run. If the quantity is too large, see if you can split the cost and the items with another parent. Consult neighbors and friends who have completed the grade your child is entering to make sure you’re getting the right items.

•Avoid the parking lot and shop online. Save time and money. Stores often put their best sales online and it’s a great way to compare prices. However, beware of identity theft and credit card fraud. Protect yourself by making sure the online transactions are secure. When in doubt, pick up the phone and call. Most online retail sites also have toll-free numbers.

•Hang onto your receipts. Return items that don’t fit or won’t get used. Beware of the return policy as some stores put a limit on how long you can wait before returning an item. If the item goes on sale after you purchase it, ask the store to give you credit for the difference.

•Delay if you can. You don’t need to buy everything before school starts. Once kids see what others are using and wearing, they always seem to have some new ideas about what they need. The sales at the stores usually extend past the first day of school so you can still benefit from them.

•With a well-thought-out plan, you can get your kids the necessary school supplies while staying on the family budget.

✔ Begin with a plan
✔ Clip the coupons,
look for sales.
✔ Stay on budget!
✔ Remember kids
grow quickly
✔ Buy in bulk
✔ Avoid the parking
lot, shop online
✔ Hang onto your
✔ Delay if you can

•For more tips about how to be a smart back-to-school shopper, contact 1-800-410-2227 or visit

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