Stretching Your Dollar... Back to school on a budget

By Maureen O'Boyle - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - There is a four in five chance you are like most Americans and you are changing how you shop for back to school items because of the economy.

A recent study for the American Retail Federation found that families will cut their spending by just under 8 percent this year.

Most families with children in grades kindergarten through 12 will spend $548.72 on school merchandise.

There are two very important things to remember on your first shopping outing; your list and a firm budget.

Take the time to comparison shop before you hit the road.  If you children are shopping with you, consider this as a chance for them to learn the value of a dollar.

Discuss what the budget is and help them make smart choices.

Shopping around could save you a lot of money.

We've seen prices vary at several stores by a substantial amount.

It just takes a little time, a little gas and a plan.  So, find where the best prices are for your needs and be willing to go to more than one store.

Drug stores are now in the back to school market.  Stores like Rite Aid and CVS advertise deep discounts on school supplies.

When it comes time for school clothing, think big.  Try to purchase clothes that will last through several months.

Also, consider what 18 percent of Americans are doing, shopping for clothes at thrift stores.

We found Cindy Daves from Cleveland County at the Community Thrift Store on Freedom Drive in Charlotte.  She drove 45 minutes to do her back to school shopping in Charlotte.  Cindy has two children in school; she told us she always stops at Charlotte thrift stores for clothing.

"He likes the skateboarder stuff, Old Navy, Gap, we always find lots of them here," Cindy said.

So, if you are trying to stretch your dollar this  back to school season, take time to make a plan, shop around, try a thrift store, and most importantly, stick to your budget.

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