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Back-to-school savings

Date posted:  7/30/15 08:30:00 AM Before school starts, parents must budget for back to school expenses.

Summer is coming to a close and the kids are heading back to school. That means it's time to stock up on school supplies, new clothes and all the other items students need before heading back to class.

Unfortunately, the cost of going back to school can be substantial. According to an annual survey conducted by the National Retail Federation (NRF), parents will spend roughly $630.36 for each child on school needs this school year. Young adults entering college will likely spend an average of $899.18 in preparation for life on campus and this doesn't include the costs associated with tuition, room and board. 

Families must budget to accommodate growing needs
Between pencils, notebooks, USB ports, printers and other supplies, parents everywhere are looking for ways to save money.

"As seen over the last 13 years, spending on 'back to school' has consistently fluctuated based on children's needs each year, and it's unlikely most families would need to restock and replenish apparel, electronics and supplies every year," noted Matthew Shay, the NRF's president and CEO. "Parents this summer will inventory their children's school supplies and decide what is needed and what can be reused, which makes good budgeting sense for families with growing children."

Shay went on to note the NRF is optimistic about continual growth for the U.S. economy. In addition, he believes consumer spending will improve over the course of the next year.

Economic improvement and job growth will contribute to families affording more when they hit shops before fall, but saving money is still important to many.

Back to school entails buying new supplies for everyone.Know how to budget for back-to-school supplies.

Take inventory of everything 
According to Bankrate, parents should go through the closets of their children and have them try everything on. If something doesn't fit, throw it out, out, provide it as a hand-me-down to a younger child, or donate it.

Parents and kids should make a list of what they need to buy for the entire school year. This will help prevent unnecessary purchases, which can ultimately save the family money.

In addition to clothing, parents should check their current stock of other necessary items at home like hats, gloves, printer ink, lunch boxes and anything else that could potentially be reused for another year.

Identifying the best back-to-school sales
When it's time to make a back-to-school purchase, U.S. News & World Report identified the best places to get supplies for the least amount of money. Stores frequently offer students appealing discounts, so shop around and compare prices for the best deals.

Knowing the best place to shop will contribute to overall savings and make for a better back-to-school shopping experience for everyone. 

Buy in bulk
Throughout the year, kids may lose their belongings. By stocking up in advance and buying items in bulk, families can save a little money. Lunch boxes, extra gloves, pencils, papers and notebooks will all be lifesavers all year long.

Know when to invest in higher quality items
While every family wants to save money when back-to-school shopping, spending a little more on certain items will pay off in the future. For example, backpacks are one purchase parents don't want to be stingy with.

While cheaper backpacks might seem cost-effective, many parents will find they need to replace them throughout the year if the quality isn't durable. These costs can add up and ultimately wind up being more expensive than just investing in a high-quality bag that will last for a much longer time. 

Check for tax-free shopping days
According to Real Simple, there are tax-free shopping dates families can take advantage of. Research and determine whether a nearby state or local government offers shopping periods where consumers do not need to pay taxes. This is a great way to help trim the final cost of the back-to-school bill.