5 Ways to Save During Back-to-School Shopping

You have to do it every year and it's usually more expensive than you expect; here's how to make the process a little easier.

School starts next week for Royal Oak students, which means one thing: back-to-school shopping.

According to the National Retailers Foundation, families of K-12 students will spend an average of $688 on supplies this year, with 85 percent saying the struggling economy continues to dictate how they shop.

So, with a lot of cash to be spent, here are five tips for shopping smart while getting your kids everything they need to hit the books.

Get your lists before you go

 and have suggested school supply lists published online by grade level to give parents an idea of what to shop for. The lists are attached to this article.

Think beyond denim and binders for college students

Back-to-school shopping, especially for college students, is about more than buying some new jeans and stocking up on three-pronged folders. Don't forget about these unconventional school supplies beforehand and you won't be slammed with unexpected expenses later on.

What are we talking about? Think food for the dorm fridge, personal care items like toothpaste and Tylenol and back-to-college car inspections.

Take inventory of what you already have

Just because it's a new year doesn't mean your child actually needs a new backpack – unless it has a broken strap or has been dragged through the mud recently. Check out your child's closet to see what clothes they've outgrown, then shop accordingly. The same goes for classroom supplies. Your third-grader may need new colored pencils (a hot item if you're in elementary school), but maybe he or she hasn't yet put a dent in that jumbo pack of No. 2 pencils you bought last year.

Seek out sales

The economy still isn't doing too hot, which means, according to the National Retail Federation, families across the country are searching for sales during their back-to-school shopping sprees.

According to an NRF survey conducted by BIG Research, 38 percent of students and parents will be buying more generic and store brands this year while 31 percent say they will be doing more comparitive shopping online. Forty-four percent of families with children in grades K-12 say they'll be spending less this year, so make sure to hit up area discount stores for sales. Hit up Mom2Mom sales or coupon Web sites such as Savings.comMyCoupons.com and CouponMountain.com.

Don't buy everything at one time

While it may be tempting to go back-to-school shopping crazy and just get it over with, that half-inch binder on your 10th-grader's world history supply list may turn into something completely different on the first day of school. Particularly with high school-age or college students, save a few of the unnecessary items for the first week of school so you know you're getting it right.


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