Back-to-school shopping secrets

Report by John Matarese

Posted by Nick Dutton - email

(WTOL) - For the first time in years, parents are expected to spend less this year on back to school supplies, because of the troubled economy.

Never mind designer jeans. Many families are cutting back on designer notebooks!

The average family now spends over 100 dollars per child on school supplies...not including clothing and shoes, which sends the bill much higher.

But we have tips for trimming that bill, courtesy the website "Organized," which says resist the urge to buy everything at one place.

Savings Secrets:

1. Instead of buying everything at once, shop multiple stores to grab "loss leaders" at each store.  Every big store sells some items below cost...such as pencils for a 1 cent....just to get you in.

2. Grab the Sunday flier: Staples, Wal-Mart, and other stores change sales every week. Staples each week features a couple of great buys.

3. Avoid "licensed character" merchandise, like Dora and Sponge Bob, if your child allows. That way you avoid licensing fees.

4. Finally, wait till after school starts for the best deals on backpacks and gym shoes, if you can.  Besides, your child may want to see what's "cool" this fall.

5.  While I am always in favor of saving pennies, beware some super cheap notebooks and pens: the quality may not be there.

Follow up:

Since my first report, I've heard from several teachers who offered some tips of their own.

Teachers tell me no-name pencils are often not made of wood, are hard to sharpen, and break easily.

In addition, they remind us that Consumer Reports magazine continues to warn that no-name vinyl lunchbags often come from China, and could be covered with lead paint.

Therefore, many teachers say you're better off paying a bit more for name brands like Ticonderoga, Mead notebooks, and Crayola, as opposed to generics.

John Matarese contributed this report.