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Outfit Your Child this Fall Without Spending His or Her College Fund

Experts say parents anticipate spending an average of $600 on back-to-school shopping this year. Here are some tips to shrink that figure.

I’m glad I’m not a kid.

If I were a kid, I think I’d be pretty mad about all the back-to-school fuss being made. We just turned the page on July! Some schools have barely been out six weeks and already we’re talking about getting them ready to go back!

But as a member of the media I must perpetuate this injustice in order to provide my readers with useful information in a timely manner. So, with my apologies to the under-18 crowd, here are my suggestions on saving money this back-to-school season.

  • Shop with a list. The best way to keep from overspending is to avoid impulse buys. Make a list of everything your child will need, and don’t buy anything unless it’s on the list.
  • Check the store circulars in your Sunday paper, or visit retailers’ websites to find out what’s on sale. If you have the time to shop around, you’ll find special buys and doorbuster deals like packs of notebook paper, spiral notebooks and packs of pencils for a penny. These low prices are designed to bring in customers in hopes they’ll buy stuff at full price while they’re in store, so if you’re able to take advantage of the special buys and avoid the full-price pitfalls, you can save a bundle.
  • Think thrifty. Thrift stores are chock-full of deals on great clothing. Just think of the name-brand stuff you’ve donated over the years (some with the tags still on!). Shop for jeans, shirts, shoes, accessories and vintage style at bargain prices. And remember, shopping at thrift stores is like recycling, and often benefits local charities.
  • Consider purchasing a . For $10, you’ll get 15 percent off lots of back-to-school necessities like writing instruments, calculators, copy paper, backpacks and more. This could be an especially good deal if you have more than one student going back to school in the fall.
  • Shop for clothes and sneakers at VF Outlet in Reading. Often described as “real outlets,” Vanity Fair is worth the drive for great deals on kids’ clothing, shoes and other back-to-school necessities. You’ll find brand names and current fashions to keep your kids happy without upsetting your checkbook balance. Click here for a printable coupon worth $5 off your $35 purchase. In addition to Vanity Fair, the outlet center also has Reebok, Timberland, Rue 21 and other stores. For additional savings, stop at the Visitors Center and grab a coupon book.
  • Team up with a neighbor or another school family and buy items from your school supply lists in bulk either online or at a warehouse store like BJs or Costco.
  • Dollar stores can offer good bargains, but know how much supplies cost elsewhere. A buck seems like a good price, unless you can get a comparable pack of pencils or spiral notebook for less at a drugstore or office supply retailer. The dollar store might be a good place to pick up small organizing bins and baskets for desks or lockers, and some dorm room essentials (cleaning, storage, laundry).

What’s on your child’s required supply list for this year? How much do you expect to spend on back-to-school shopping? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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