Don't want to bust the budget shopping for back-to-school?
Then take some tips from a savvy mom of two boys, who shared with us her9 secrets for school shopping savings.
Nedra McDaniel -- author of the "Adventure Mom" travel and savings blog -- took us shopping at Target, at the Newport Pavilion shopping center in Newport, Kentucky.
Shop multiple stores to save the most
Her first secret? Much as she loves Target, she said don't shop just one store.
"You want to be able to take advantage of the different deals happening at each store," McDaniel said.
That leads to secret number 2: Staples will often have school items for just a penny, so check their ad or flier to see what's on sale that week. Staples' deals change weekly.
Her third tip: Choose a store based on what they offer the most of.
She likes to shop Walmart for cheap prices on the basics, Target for discount cool fashions, and Old Navy, JC Penney, and online vendors for the best variety and price on school uniforms.
To help you compare prices, McDaniel gave us tip number 4: Use shopping apps, that can really be your friend this time of year.
Beware super cheap supplies
Tip number 5: As much as this might sound counterintuitive, McDaniel skips cheap backpacks (selling for under $20), because she said they might fall apart by Christmas.
She looks for backpacks from LL Bean or Jansport that come with lifetime warranties.
"Jansport has a higher price point, but they have a lifetime guarantee," she said.
Target even has its own line of cheaper Jansport backpacks, and they still include the longer warranty.
"So I suggest you spend a little bit more," she said, "but it's going to last the whole year."
Ditto for super cheap no-name crayons and markers, when just 30 cents more might get you top quality Crayola.
Hold off on cold weather gear
McDaniel's tip number 6 is another that might sound strange at first. She said she resists the urge to buy all that fall and winter clothing right now, despite the great displays.
Instead she shops the big sales on summer clothes right now, because, she said, "your kids can wear it for at least a couple of months."
For instance, she doesn't buy long pants till late September or October, when they go on sale.
"I definitely suggest types of items they can wear for a while, for example $4 athletic shorts, that they're going to wear most of the year," McDaniel said.
Sales Tax Holiday
Tip number 7: If you don't mind dealing with some crowds, McDaniel said to wait tillOhio's Sales Tax Holiday August 4-6 where you will save $7 on every $100 worth of clothing and supplies you buy (and $300 worth will save you $21). CLICK HERE for more details on the tax holiday.
She shopped it last year, even though she lives in Kentucky, which has no tax holiday.
"I don't have a problem crossing the bridge to do my shopping," she said.
Ohio's Sales Tax Holiday gives a break on sales tax for clothing items under $75 each, and school supplies costing less than $20 each. There is no limit on how much you can buy.
Other states, like Florida and Georgia, have even better tax holidays, with more expensive items qualifying for tax free shopping.
Bring older kids with you
But that leads to tip number 8: Don't buy clothing for older junior and high school kids if they're not with you in the store. She learned a lesson last year.
"It's not a good deal if your kid won't wear it," McDaniel said." So sometimes it's better to just bring them with you."
Finally, McDaniel's tip number 9: this is a great time to buy laptops or office supplies, even if you don't have school age kids.
You will find great laptop sales starting this week, and there is no need to wait for the tax holiday to shop. Laptops and tablets don't qualify for the tax break, so skip the tax-free weekend crowds if you are looking for electronics.
That way you don't waste your money.
“Don't Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”).
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