8 Tips for Smart Back-to-School Shopping

It’s time for the kids to head back to school. If you’re overwhelmed by all you need to buy and organize, don’t hit the panic button just yet. These tips will help you save money and reduce stress, too.

Back to School bigPhoto by: iStock

1. Take an inventory of the supplies your child already has. You’ll be amazed at the forgotten notebooks, pens, markers and rulers you can find in a drawer or last year’s backpack.

2. Have your child try on last year’s clothing. Make a list of what needs to be replaced. Ask other parents if they’d consider participating in a clothes swap. And look through your child’s unwanted sports equipment to see if you can resell anything.

3. Compare prices online and in flyers before heading out to shop. See which stores have a price match policy and which are running the best sales. In some areas, local health departments offer free basic school supplies to parents who bring their child in for immunizations. Get more information.

4. Check with your child’s school or refer to their class supply list before buying any high-priced technology items like computers and calculators to make sure those items are required.

5. Buy backpacks with prevention in mind. Although your kids may want neon superhero backpacks, you should be more concerned about getting the right fit to help prevent injuries and joint problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends looking for backpacks with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back, or buying a rolling backpack if your child will normally be carrying a heavy load.

6. Do some research to see if your state is one of several that offer a break from sales tax for a few days in August. Check here to learn more.

7. Use your smartphone apps to scan bar codes to see if you’re getting the best deal.

8. Buy for durability. Allyou.com suggests buying sturdier plastic folders and binders instead of thinner ones so you can reuse the next year.

A 2013 Offers.com survey indicated that 45% of respondents said they would spend at least $200 on each child for back-to-school supplies.

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