The average American family spends several hundred dollars on clothes and supplies at the start of the new school year. Whittle down that bill with these tips.
Step 1: Save on taxes Wait until your state's tax-free days to shop. Many states have them in August so parents can save on back-to-school clothing and supplies.
TIP: Find tax-free shopping dates at "taxadmin.org":http://taxadmin.org/.
Step 2: Swap for stuff Get together with other parents to swap school supplies. Or look for websites that specialize in parents looking to make trades, like "swapmamas.com":http://www.swapmamas.com/.
Step 3: Consider refurbished items Consider buying refurbished products for pricey items if you want to score back-to-school bargains. Many refurbished items aren't even used; they're so-called "open box" articles that consumers simply removed from the package before deciding to return them.
Step 4: Buy in bulk Contact your child's school about participating in retailer programs that organize all supplies for the school year in a single box that parents can order. Because the items are bought in bulk, the savings can be up to 50 percent of the cost of purchasing the supplies on your own.
TIP: If your school doesn't offer a retailer program, band together with other parents to buy supplies in bulk.
Step 5: Ensure the lowest prices Check prices online and via circulars at several stores and then buy everything you need at a store that matches their competitors' lowest prices. Besides saving money, you'll save the time you'd otherwise spend running around town for back-to-school bargains -- and who can put a price on that?
FACT: Back-to-school spending is the second biggest buying spree of the year in the U.S., after winter holiday shopping.