(BPT) - Back-to-school shopping can come with plenty of sticker shock, if you don't plan ahead. This year, parents said they plan on spending more this year than last, with totals exceeding $900 to outfit and supply, according to a survey by Rubicon. To shave some dollars off that total, here are a few savvy strategies to save while preparing for school.
Watch for extreme deals
This is the key time of year to follow the cardinal rule of the extreme saver: Keep an eye on the ads for rock-bottom prices on school essentials. In the weeks leading up to the start of school, it's your time to save big.
Take advantage of price matching
A traditional frugal shopper will tell you not to settle for anything but the lowest price. If you have to make six lists and drive all over town, being a penny pincher costs dearly in time. Instead, compare those weekly ads and save yourself some time by taking advantage of price matching. Staples, for example, offers a 110 Percent Lowest Price Guarantee, meaning all you have to do is show proof of a competitor’s lower price, and Staples will not only match it, they tack on another 10 percent off. If you are interested in learning more, visit www.staples.com/backtoschool
If you find some unbeatable deals, stock up for next year. And don’t overlook this opportunity to replenish your home with art supplies to keep your child’s creative flow moving along. Either way, if Junior springs a due-the-next-day project on you, you’ll won't have to go the store on an already busy weeknight. A great resource to stock up is the Less List for School offered by Staples, which features season-low prices on the essentials, such as pencils, composition books, notebooks, crayons, batteries, glue and more.
Don't forget the thrift store
Make more room in your budget by looking at secondhand options for big ticket clothing items like shoes, coats and jackets. Choose the basics in solid colors for a timeless look. Sometimes, you’ll find a like-new, high-quality item hiding in the rack, and at a fraction of the price.
At this level of spending, it's smart to capture savings where you can. Even if you save 10 percent across the board, it's worth it because you're still going home with a handful of $10 bills in your pocket.