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Savvy Shoppers:Tips for Smart Back to School Shopping

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By Rachel Derry
Staff Writer LIFamilies

When you talk about back to school, most parents’ wallets tighten with fear at the future costs that they know they are going to spend. Between supplies and clothing, even just one child of school age can send your bills soaring to new heights.

Well, in this economy parents and guardians are learning to spend less and more wisely. Making your dollar stretch is the new game we all play, and the winner is the one with the most left and to show in the end. Here are a couple game cheats for the savvy parent getting ready to send their child back to school:

-Pre shop online. Go online to not only pick out what you want to buy, but also where it is the least expensive. Another benefit of going online first is that there are usually better coupons for you to print out and take with you.

-Shop later on. Just because the school bell is about the ring and the bus is around the corner doesn't mean that you need to have all of your school shopping done. In fact, if you wait to do some of your major shopping after school has begun you will find that most retailers are itching to get rid of their remaining merchandise and will have it all at a reduced price.

-Live by your lists. We all make shopping lists, but very few of us have the gusto to stay true to them. Make your shopping list, whether digital or on paper, and buy only what you have on it. Make a note of other items that you were thinking about to buy at a later date; 9 times out of 10 you will find that the other items really aren't all that important after all.

-Bring your smart phone shopping with you always. Most smart phones have barcode-reading apps that will scan an item's barcode and tell you which store near you has the same item for the best price. You can also do a quick online search to find a similar item in a different store.

-When buying big items look for the best bundle price. Some parents not only need to by notebooks and rulers when their children are heading back. If you need to invest in a big ticket item, such as a computer, search for brands that have the best package deals. For going back to school, most companies will bundle their computers with cameras, printers or game consoles. Make sure to check out all of the deals to get the most bang for your buck.

-Sell unused items or reuse the usable. To make a little extra money to make back to school have a little less of an impact consider selling any unwanted or unused items that you have lying around the house. Use online outlets, such as eBay or craigslist, to get rid of toys, furniture, and household items. An old school yard sale always works too, and then you don't have to worry about shipping fees.

Although your children will try to convince you otherwise, if items from last year, such as backpacks, are still in good working order use them until they aren't. Just because you child doesn't get a new backpack at the beginning of the school year doesn't mean that they won't get one. Let them know that once the item is too dirty or broken to use, they will still get a new one.

-Speaking of your kids, lay down the rules. Always nudge your children away from as many "thrill" items as possible. Teach them to pick out the items that they want to use everyday, rather than once or twice a season. They will still get to pick out the items and you will still get just the necessities.

-Try to never make a day of it. Most families will pack up the family and head to the mall first thing in the morning to make a day of back to school shopping. When you shop this way it leads to poor, tired, "just get it already" purchases. These items are usually the ones you regret the most. Just like you don't go grocery shopping hungry: you don't go school shopping tired and cranky.

-Try to give back. Once you have counted all of your resourceful savings, try to give something back to your community. You are far from the only parent struggling at back to school time, and many families don't have any money to buy their children's supplies. Look for local charities that make school bundles for these children. Even just a couple pencils and notebooks can go a long way for a child who has none.

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Savvy Shoppers:Tips for Smart Back to School Shopping

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