Back-to-school shopping can be a budget buster for parents. But there are ways out there to get a deal, experts say.
According to the National Retail Federation, families with children in kindergarten through 12th grade plan to spend an average $697 this year. Clothing and accessories take the biggest cut, closely followed by electronics. Basic supplies such as notebooks, pencils, backpacks and lunchboxes will run — ouch! — about $117.
Carolyn Erickson tracks and reports the best back-to-school sales at local stores on her website, Wichita on the Cheap, weekly. “It’s my favorite time of the year because you can find good-quality, name-brand supplies for cheap,” says Erickson, who spent 13 years buying school supplies for her daughter, a recent high school graduate. “But I also see how widely prices can vary.”
When it comes to shopping for school supplies, there are two schools of thought. One is to choose a store you think has the lowest prices and buy everything in a single swoop. This approach saves time, gas and, for some, sanity. (Savvy shoppers might even increase their savings by using their smartphone to comparison-shop other stores, then ask the checkout clerk to match the prices.)
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