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3 Smart Back-to-School Shopping Tips

As the new school year begins many panic-stricken parents are trying to find ways to satiate their kids' cravings for the newest, most-expensive brand name clothes and accessories. In fact, the average family, with school-aged children, plans to spend close to $600 on back-to-school purchases this year, according to a National Retail Federation (NRF) survey. And back-to-school spending for parents with grade school children is expected to reach a total of $20.1 billion this year.

However, for some families, spending a lot of money on their kids for school is not an option. More parents are on the hunt for good bargains and sales. NRF reports that 73 percent of parents surveyed will head to discount stores instead of department stores for their back-to-school purchases.

"This year's back-to-school shopper is a bargain hunter at the core," says Phil Rist, vice president of Strategy at BIGresearch, in a NRF report. "Though parents want to make sure kids are fully prepared for school, they will compare prices?before making any big purchases."

In order to help parents save a few bucks on back-to-school items, Consumer Reports.com created three money-saving shopping tips:

  1. Stall with summer-sale items. It?s likely to still be warm outside when school starts, so kids can still wear summer clothes. Stalling not only gives kids a chance to tune into fall clothing trends and to find the styles they really want, it buys time for parents to take advantage of Labor Day and Columbus Day, sales in addition to other money-saving opportunities.
  2. Don?t stock up. Before shopping, take inventory of the closet and determine what still fits and what doesn't. This way parents won't buy any duplicates or clothes kids may grow out of in six months. Additionally, resist the temptation to stockpile on new clothes. Consumer Reports advises that parents buy one or two pieces in their kids? sizes, and then plan to go shopping again during the holidays when the next growth spurt hits.
  3. Arm yourself with coupons. Before hitting all of the favorite stores, check for coupons or online coupon codes on websites such as Military.com?s Discount Center or Couponcabin.com. What's more, major retailers such as The Children's Place, Limited Too, Gymboree, Sears, Target, Macy's, Old Navy and Gap Kid's, offer coupons that can save parents at least 10 percent to 50 percent off the total bill.

Parents can also use their Economic Stimulus Payment check -- the government distributed the checks earlier this summer -- as way to fund a back-to-school shopping trip. Most tax-payers with children should have received at least $1,200 from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). But, continue try to be frugal while spending and remember, you'll just have to do it all over again next year.

For more information about shopping and discounts visit Military.com's Shopping channel.

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