The end of summer is near when you start to shop for back to school supplies. With shrinking budgets, most schools don’t have the money for disposable classroom supplies. So families are now being asked to pitch in. Here are a few tips on saving money when your shopping for school supplies this year.

 

With school budgets diminishing, parents are being asked more and more to help and pitch in for the betterment of the children. That’s why instead of just pencils, paper and a pencil box, you’re now seeing things like tissue boxes, hand sanitizer, ear buds, dry erase markers, Ziploc bags, flash drives and maybe even a sleeve of tennis balls (to help quiet desk chairs). In fact, the National Retail Federation reports that the average back-to-school spending by families has grown 42 percent in the past 10 years. And a NRF survey says that the average family with kids in K-12 plans to spend $97.74 this year on school supplies alone, and $630.36 counting clothing, shoes and electronics according to The Des Moines Register.

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Here are a few ideas and tips to help you and you back to school budget thanks to The Des Moines Register. 

Shop at home. Chances are you can find at least a few of the items on your child's school list right there at home. Unsharpened pencils and packages of sticky notes still in their wrapper, etc.

Be prepared. Download and print a copy of your school’s supply list before you go shopping in case the stores don’t have it.

Spread it out. Start early to take advantage of rotating sales from competing stores. Be on the lookout for great sales everyday.

Think outside the box (stores). Obviously, you’ll find much of what you need at big retailers like Target, Wal-Mart and Staples. Avoid the crowd and still save money by checking dollar stores and even supermarkets for school supply sales.

Get app-savvy. If you haven’t already, start downloading apps that can help you compare prices and save money. Find store-specific coupons and special offers with apps from Wal-Mart, Staples, Office Depot, Walgreens and Target (Cartwheel).

Stick to the list.

Hold off. Don’t make major school supply purchases until after the first couple days of school. Individual teachers will let them know what specific supplies, if any, they’ll need for that class. Don’t send them empty-handed — they’ll surely need pens, a notebook and a folder — but don’t spend $20 on a huge binder with all the bells and whistles just to find out that a) it won’t fit in a desk or locker.

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Give the kids a budget. If going back-to-school shopping is a family tradition, by all means, don’t stop. Instead, decide how much you want to spend on each child, and give each the budget to follow.

Good luck and get ready to start working on those grades.