Keep most of your money in your wallet while you stock up for the school year. As parents and kids prepare to head back to school, retailers are expecting families to spend 7.7 percent less than they have in years' past.
Staying within a tight school supply budget doesn't mean that the kiddos have to sacrifice their Hannah Montana logoed merchandise for characters they've never seen before. Check out our tips for spreading your dollars as far as possible.
- Discuss wants versus needs. Allow the kids to pick one special item they want for the school year - be it a special backpack, a logoed notebook, or nice pens - before ever leaving home.
- Shop early. The sagging economy has forced retailers to cut their school supply inventory dramatically, meaning they will be advertising their best sales early in the season, rather than later. Almost half of all shoppers plan to do their back-to-school shopping a month before school begins to take advantage of the sales.
- Stock up on basics. Take advantage of the pre-schoolyear prices - as much as your budget allows - to build up your supply of basics like paper, pens, crayons, markers, etc.
- Check online in addition to newspaper circulars. Many stores offer additional coupons on their web sites to the ones found in your weekly newspaper.
- Leave no stone unturned. Before heading to your office superstore or major discounter, check your kiddo's closets, desks, and even backpack from last year to see just which supplies you need. Many may still be unused from previous school years.
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