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Back-to-school shopping tips

By Paul Nelson | Posted - Aug 9th, 2013 @ 9:09am

SALT LAKE CITY — If recent reports are correct, you will not be spending as much money on your child's back-to-school supplies this year as you have in the past.

This is concerning for some educators, since teachers may be asking for more things than they've requested in the past.

Ever since last year, teachers have had a little more leeway in asking for donations from their students' parents. Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley said more teachers are becoming aware of that fact.

"There are a lot of things that teachers would like to provide for their kids, and you'll see a lot of those on these types of request letters that come home," Horsley said.

For example, you may see requests for a higher than normal number of pencils. Or, teachers may ask for things like boxes of facial tissue.

"They want to provide additional supplies for their kids to help keep them healthy," Horsley said.

Back-to-school spending
  • Families with school-age children will spend an average $634.78 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics
  • That's down from $688.62 last year
  • Total spending on back-to-school is expected to reach $26.7 billion

Source: National Retail Federation Survey

He said teachers are given money to use for classroom needs, but they would like to use that money to further what is being taught.

Eventually, schoolchildren may need more high-end electronic devices like tablet computers, and that day might not be too far away.

"I think we're a few years down the road where we will anticipate providing or asking students to provide a device that they can utilize in the classroom," Horsley said.

But, for now, Horsley said kids just need the standard fare. There's just one problem. If you're looking for the absolute best deals on back-to-school supplies, you're too late.

Rachel Turner with said, "Now, with that said, if you're a late starter, there is still hope."

Dollar deals

She said even though what shoppers see now aren't the best deals, they're still pretty darn good. But, she said you need to be careful about falling for the phrase "for a dollar" on your Sunday paper ads. Seeing products being sold "for a dollar" may seem like a great deal, but there are probably better deals out there.

"Anything ‘for a dollar' is not worth it when you can get a notebook for 17 cents at Walmart," she said.

Wait to buy

Are there any items parents can avoid buying this time of year to save some money? Turner said if you haven't bought your child a backpack or a lunch box yet, it may be a good idea to wait a while.

"Sometimes it's OK to wait a week after school starts because people are going to want to liquidate all the extra school supplies that they now are stuck with," she explained.

Turner said store operators aren't sure if that One Direction lunch box or the Justin Bieber backpack will be in demand next year, so they want to get rid of them after the school year starts.

She also said this is a good time of year to buy printers, laptops and even something like bedding or lights since so many new college students would need them for their dorms.

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