(WXYZ) - It may still be summer, but back to school time will be here before you know it. When you head out to get back to school stuff, if you're doing most of your shopping at just one store, you could be paying a lot more than you need to.
Hopes for big improvement in the economy this year have faded the past couple of months. Shoppers cut back their spending in May and June, and summer hasn't been looking much better. But that's good news for back to school shoppers who are starting to find some great deals out there this year.
Ellen Kelly and her kids are going from store to store to find the best deals.
"Usually Target, Walmart," Kelly says.
But Ellen, like a lot of moms, is watching the budget very closely this year.
Mandy Stephens hopes to keep her spending below last years.
"Hopefully less!" Stephens says.
Surveys say the average family with 2 kids will spend $600 this year on back to school. So to trim those costs, we turned to a seasoned Mommy Blogger, Andrea Deckard of SavingsLifestyle.com. She says planning ahead is key.
Andrea's first tip is to know exactly what you need from the school's list. Then, beware high priced character merchandise this year.
"The character notebooks, the characters, Justin Beiber, all these different celebrities, on the notebooks," Deckard says.
Does your young one have a beating heart for Beiber? His notebooks and backpacks can be twice the price. Andrea suggests limiting the kids to just one.
Another tip is to grab the Sunday newspaper for weekly coupons, and shop with those. She says no single store is cheapest on everything.
"Walmart has higher prices on a few things. Target has higher prices on a few different things," Deckard says.
She says Staples is great for penny deals, but other items there can be pricier.
"They have some great deals each week, where they list some items for a penny. But those are limited quantities," Deckard says.
For more expensive items, like backpacks, Andrea says use a price scanning app like Red Laser or Shop Savvy.
"And it gives us a list of all the different places online that have that product," Deckard says.
A Dymo Label Maker, for instance, ranges from 25 down to 17 dollars depending on where you buy it.
Andrea also suggests you hold off buying fall and winter clothing. Most of it's not on sale now, and summer clothes are fine.
She also says don't forget Old Navy, Walgreens, Michaels, and even dollar stores which can be much cheaper for basics.
So how will this back to school season turn out? It's impossible to say right now. But with retailers worried, they're going to be cutting prices, and that way you don't waste your money.
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