Ruth to the Rescue Roundup: Back-to-school savings

Lessons to save you money now, and next year

Many parents have been scrambling to finish their back to school shopping. Have you done all you can to control your spending? Ruth to the Rescue has contacted some money-saving experts on strategies to keep you from busting the family budget when your children head back to class.

The National Retail Federation predicts parents will spend about $670 on back to school purchases this year. That's $134 dollars more than last year.

"B" is for Budget!

The first step to spending less money can be a painful one for many people. "I think budget, budgeting in general has a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths. Most people don't budget," says Phillip Putney of AFS Wealth Management in Farmington Hills.

Putney say you should create a budget that sets limits in key categories like school supplies, clothes, and electronic gadgets. Once those limits are set, it will be easier to see if you're spending too much, or if your right on target. He also says you should make the spending plan a family affair. Show your children the spending limits and where they might help out.

"If they happened to want a pair of shoes that cost more than what you budgeted, they can always contribute to that, maybe from the summer job they had," advises Putney.

After setting budget priorities, make a list of specific purchases. Most schools have a list of required supplies. Once you make a list of the supplies, the clothes, and other items: stick to the list! When you go to the store, get what you need and get out!

"Any economist will tell you the more time you spend in any retail establishment, you're more prone to spending more money," says Phillip Putney of AFS Wealth Management in Farmington Hills.

Price Matching, Shopping Around

Putney reminds people to shop around for the best deals. That process can include price matching, forcing retailers to match prices from other stores. Find out if your favorite stores have a price matching policy. It is important to know all the possible restrictions before going to the store.

This year Staples introduced a 110% Price Match, doing more than matching the price. Ruth to the Rescue's hidden cameras found the process went very smoothly at stores in Detroit, Clawson and Roseville.

Going Mobile, Savings In The Palm of Your Hand

"You have so much data right in your hands that you never used to have before," says Melissa Buckles of everydaysavvy.com, the bargain shopping website.

One of her favorite new apps is Favado. It's been tracking grocery prices for about a year and just added back to school items. "You can find what's on sale at all your favorite stores, what the best prices are, you can search by items, like you want to find out where is the best deal on crayons," she explained to
ruth to the Rescue.

More Savings Guidelines

1) Inventory the school supplies you already have in your home from last year, so you're not buying duplicates of items you already have.

2) If you have more than one child, combine the their lists, and buy common items in bulk.

3) Try generic versions. Buckles says some generic products are just as good, and you'll save a lot of money.

4) Give each child one "splurge" item, so they can pick one thing (maybe a backpack) that they really like.

5) Hold a "Savings Contest" with older children. Give them a list of item and whoever saves the most money wins!

6) For clothes, repurpose older clothes and turn them into something children can wear again.

7) Buy school clothes during summer sales, it's hot during the first weeks of school. Then buy fall clothes later, when they go on sale.

8) Try "Flash Sale" sites that sell items for less.

9) Never shop online, or in a store, without some kind of coupon. Search online for promotions, check newspapers for the best deals.

10) If you have a favorite store, acquire a loyalty card to help you maximize savings. Check with your credit card for any special rewards programs.

With a little preparation, you can save money and we found a few parents who love the challenge.

"This is my favorite time of the year because there's some great, great coupons and sales so it really is a challenge for me to go out and find the best deals possible," said shopper Shannon Sansom.